Football has been rocked by numerous betting scandals, but none quite so like the teams that play on the European continent.
Betting on sports games is part of a big business industry. However, there are those that employ unethical and illegal practices when it comes to gambling in sports.
Football is one sport that is constantly being targeted by criminal syndicates that are looking to exploit the game and destabilize the basic foundations that it was built upon.
Match-fixing of football games is a growing concern for everyone involved in the beautiful game. Fans, players and regulating bodies all form part of the game, as every individual party partakes in a certain way, and they all want to be able to experience the full extent of football, without any bitterness left over.
When football is tarnished, the culprit is usually one of two age-old forms of corruption. Match-fixing and spot-fixing. This piece will recap some of the most shameful incidents of betting scandal in World Cup history.
Calciopoli – marred lead up to 2006 World Cup
The scandal that rocked the football world will forever be remembered as one of the worst match-fixing events that stretched for two full seasons.
• Calciopoli – shifted Italian football to a lower state
• 2009 – biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe
• FIFA attempts to abolish illegal betting scandals
The scandal occurred in the Italian top division football league Serie A, where teams like Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina and Reggina were implicated in match rigging.
The Italian police discovered an extensive network of individuals that involved team managers and referees working alongside one another to bring forth favorable results to their respective teams. The teams selected referees that were more supportive of the teams they were involved with in illegal practices.
Turin side Juventus, who were crowned champions for the 2005-2006 season, were stripped off their honors and received substantial point deductions, as a penalty for their involvement in the scandal.
As a result, Juventus were relegated to the second division league Serie B for the first time in their long history. Many prominent players decided demand transfers to other clubs, as they did not wish to compete in a lower league.
Since many important players also played for Juventus, the Italian national squad was under scrutiny up to the lead to the World Cup in 2006 that was held in Germany. Ironically, Italy shined at the World Cup and ended up the eventual champions.
Nowadays, online betting sites in Italy are the ones that are in constant cooperation with the authorities to ensure legal practices are enforced, as they attempt to eradicate match rigging.
Biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe
UEFA’s spokesperson, Peter Limacher, claimed that it is “the biggest match-fixing scandal ever to hit Europe.”
In 2009, a match-fixing scandal was uncovered that covered a myriad of games widespread across Europe. Games that took place in nine countries were targeted by betting syndicates. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Hungary, Turkey and Belgium were countries were the games were heavily rigged.
Reports indicates that there were over 200 games in total that were focused on. Fixtures included domestic games, but also featured some in UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League.
Illegal betting syndicates attempted to destabilize the gambling industry, by placing bets against the favorites that the mobile betting firms predicted.
UEFA’s president, Michel Platini, claimed at the time that the regulatory body is working harder on putting a stop to match-fixing in football. Additionally, he stated that UEFA would be taking action against clubs that violate any sort of breach of UEFA betting rules, and the body would take greater efforts in monitoring matches across Europe.
Luckily, the people responsible for the fraud were brought to justice, as a number of individuals believed to be involved in the scandal were investigated and eventually arrested.
As much as fifteen people implicated were arrested in Germany alone, while another two were found in Switzerland. All of their properties were seized by the authorities, until the hearing concluded the verdict.
FIFA worried about match rigging in Brazil
Luckily, when one looks at football history, World Cup betting scandals are harder to come across. There were minor incidents in some World Cups, however none compare to the extensive damage that was done across the fields of Europe.
The upcoming World Cup in Brazil will be the focus for illegal betting predators that seek to capitalize on ruining the special game.
Ralf Mutschke, FIFA’s security chief, expressed his concerns how match-fixing may become a real problem, unless dealt with rigorous methods. He is worried that the group stage of the initial phase of the tournament is the most likely stage that might be targeted by syndicates.
Players from teams participating in the group stages are more likely to accept bribes than players whose teams progress to the further stages.
In efforts to battle potential match rigging events, Ralf Mutschke says that FIFA has implemented a number of measure aimed at preventing such things from happening.
“We are trying to protect the World Cup from fixing and we have set up a pretty wide range of measures to do so.”
Hopefully, the World Cup in Brazil will not be affected by any betting syndicates, as fans want to enjoy the games, and see fairness across all levels of football.
FIFA should crack down on even the smallest hints of possible match-fixing activity, in order to prevent anything interfering with football at the World Cup.
It would be a tragedy to witness a team win crucial games and then days later hear reports circulating about possible rigging at the matches. The Cup in Brazil should be remembered for the great moments that the game has to offer.
Considering that there is a little over a month until the official kick-off, in which the opening game is Brazil vs Croatia, FIFA will be vigilantly monitoring activities across the globe for possible irregularities.