There have been some incredible things written about match fixing and match fixers, from Declan Hill’s “The Fix” to Sean Patrick Griffin’s “Gaming The Game.”
But Brett Forrest’s “All The World Is Staged” piece—which will be published in the May 28 edition of ESPN The Magazine—certainly belongs in the discussion.
The 3,200-word story details just how corrupt the soccer world really is, with match fixing so widespread that it threatens to ruin the legitimacy of games in several countries. The details contained within the article are too numerous to count, but here’s the nut graph:
The world’s most popular game is also its most corrupt, with investigations into match fixing ongoing in more than 25 countries. A mere sampling of events since the beginning of last year: Operation Last Bet rocked the Italian Football Federation, with 22 clubs and 52 players awaiting trial for fixing matches; the Zimbabwe Football Association banned 80 players from its national-team selection due to similar accusations; Lu Jun, the first Chinese referee of a World Cup match, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for taking more than $128,000 in bribes to fix outcomes in the Chinese Super League; prosecutors charged 57 people with match fixing in the South Korean K-League, four of whom later died in suspected suicides; the team director of second-division Hungarian club REAC Budapest jumped off a building after six of his players were arrested for fixing games; and in an under-21 friendly, Turkmenistan reportedly beat Maldives 3-2 in a “ghost match” — neither country knew about the contest because it never actually happened, yet bookmakers still took action and fixers still profited.
One man, described in the story as a proficient match fixer, said altering the outcome of games became too easy for him. Needing a new thrill, he began wagering money on uninfluenced games—he placed bets on the Chicago Bulls and Manchester United, for instance—and developed a gambling addiction not long after.
He lost $10 million in a three-month period and then got himself into further trouble when he couldn’t repay his debt.
But his issues are small compared to the ones that many soccer leagues face, and if they aren’t resolved soon, we might never look at the sport the same way again.
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BTB Note: You can view the article here.