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Wondering where this match-fixing business will land?

Dec 17, 2013, 10:14 PM EDT

sports betting

Today’s revelations that Italian standout Gennaro Gattuso has been potentially implicated in match-fixing drags this black mark on the game into a new area.

Gattuso was a World Cup winner for Italy and an AC Milan institution, with 13 years invested in the famous club. He is easily the biggest name yet implicated in the wide-ranging investigation of rigging matches. And isn’t that a little scary?

Not so long ago, world soccer leaders could convince themselves that match-fixing was an issue confined to the soccer back waters, relatively speaking, that this unseemly matter was the province of second- and third-division in Europe, or the “top” leagues in distant Asian lands.

But the drip-drip of news soon implicated UEFA Champions League matches and even World Cup and European Championship qualifiers that may have been linked to some funny business. And now perhaps Italy’s Serie A?

Just yesterday, Fox Sports’ Leander Schaerlaeckens wondered when England – yes, venerable England! – would wake up to the possibility of potential infiltration. It’s an interesting piece, where a match-fixing expert wonders when the British game will shake its “attitude of cultural superiority” and get more vigilant along the watchtower for this stuff.

While it’s important to understand that “match-fixing” isn’t always about actually rigging the results – in many instances, the “rigging” is a player getting a yellow card or perhaps a penalty kick being awarded at some point in a match – all of this does go to the integrity of the game.

And the really big money would be in rigging the result. Anyone out there naïve enough to believe it hasn’t already taken place in some prominent league?

It’s going to happen at some point, the huge bombshell of a criminal revelation. Actual results in the Premier League or in the World Cup finals tournament will find their way into this mud.

It would seem that having a figure like Gattuso implicated – not convicted, it must be said, not yet – moves us one painful step closer to that awful destination.

  1. rphillish - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    I think anyone paying attention has to know that there is match fixing going on, and at nearly every level of play. If some big major match fixing scandal does come to light some day, what will be surprising wont be the fixing, but how many people with authority were complicit, and how how long people looked the other way.

  2. dfstell - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:12 AM

    I keep joking that this explains what is wrong with Manchester United this season.

    The problem with the mere suggestion of match-fixing is that once you start to believe that it MAY be present, you can’t ever look at a poor performance as just a poor performance: Maybe it was fixed?

    You can’t unsee it. Like…..why did Panama do such a horrible job defending against the USMNT in that WC qualifier a few months ago? It was like they wanted us to score! Of course, I don’t really believe that is what happened (especially since the bigger money would have been on keeping Mexico OUT of the WC)…..but it shows how your thinking changes. It’s akin to that moment where you stop believing that the magician is really making the Statue of Liberty disappear and merely start to wonder how they managed the illusion.

    I HOPE that never happens.

    • drewvt6 - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      I think the suspicion of match fixing is part of the reason you see fans in countries more prone to this issue to stage riots or to vandalize players houses. It creates a cynicism outside the game that ruins sports as well.

  3. SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Dec 18, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    As this problem comes to light it’s made see that the European structure with no playoff system aside from Champions League, gives end of season games the fertile ground to give losing teams a chance to make extra money for meaningless games.

    Playoffs and parity will help to limit match-fixing.

    But, European football seems to be almost all gambling ads. From bet 360’s sideline ads to the “Oddsfather” commercial for gambling. Yes, fake mafia dons are allowed air time during games. I mean Man City has their own “Man City Betting” page on their site. Sky Sports has Sky Bet on every article. Imagine NBCsports Bet or “Yankees Betting” on their own site.

    If gambling is so involved in funding of these leagues, why is this surprising?

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