Match fixing is not what the FAI needs now.
But Niall Quinn and the new FAI regime need to address it.
In Limerick City recently, Gardai seized evidence of alleged match fixing in the League of Ireland. Mobile phones, documents, €20,000 in cash and a stun gun were seized.
Globally, the sports betting industry is growing exponentially. With the US Supreme Court recently legalising sports betting across the USA, it is now predicted that the value of the global sports betting market will reach approximately $155.49 billion by 2024.
There seems to be no curbing the risk of corruption, match-fixing and “betting irregularities” in sport.
The idea that all professional athletes are high flying celebrities with infinite amounts of money is misconceived. For example, less than 4% of male professional tennis players break even. Most are in fact, vulnerable. Their corruptors are not.
As Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren (who led the WADA investigation into Russian doping) said;
“Once they take that first step, once they accept that first business class plane ticket, they become vulnerable, they can be threatened,” he said. “The fixers can threaten to report them to their sports associations – and they can also make other threats.”
“These people are better organised and better funded than the sports integrity bodies” McLaren said.
Wales’ rugby coach Rob Howley and England footballer Daniel Sturridge have both recently been banned for breaching gambling regulations. They are the high-profile examples. The League of Ireland is perhaps not as high profile but the damage done is significant, whatever the level.
What can be done ?
Those involved in sports administration need to invest in policies and education on:
- The risks;
- How to comply with the applicable rules;
- How to manage crisis situations; and
- How to handle any implicated individuals during the investigation itself.
Simple but crucial steps.
Gardaí have discovered evidence of betting, cash and a stun gun as part of an investigation into League of Ireland match fixing.