May 31st, 2014 at 7:39 PM ^

In other words, when US scores zero goals in our 3 group games, we can blame a Singaporean crime syndicate? Landon Donovan will be relieved to hear that.


May 31st, 2014 at 8:13 PM ^

Lots of hints and innuendo to lead the reader to suspect World Cup matches, but the evidence doesn't quite deliver.


Later that night in May 2010, Mr. Chaibou refereed an exhibition match between South Africa and Guatemala in preparation for the World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event.


The report found that the match-rigging syndicate and its referees infiltrated the upper reaches of global soccer in order to fix exhibition matches and exploit them for betting purposes. It provides extensive details of the clever and brazen ways that fixers apparently manipulated “at least five matches and possibly more” in South Africa ahead of the last World Cup. As many as 15 matches were targets, including a game between the United States and Australia, according to interviews and emails printed in the FIFA report.


Fixing friendly exhibitions played in the run-up to the World Cup isn't quite the same as fixing Cup matches themselves. No evidence of the latter is presented, and the methods described, infiltrating individual national federations, wouldn't do the job. Referees for friendlies are assigned by the nations involved, referees for World Cup matches are not. (Federations nominate referees but don't determine who works which match, for obvious reasons.)

There really isn't anything new here. We've known about the Singapore syndicate for years now, the details of the South Africa/Guatemala match are new but they're consistent with what was already known about other similar incidents. But so far all the evidence leads to friendlies and lower-level national leagues. A referee blows a couple of bogus handballs in the penalty area in the Bulgarian second division or an untelevised friendly international, there may not be much uproar. Do it in front of a billion television viewers and somebody's likely to start digging around, and what crime syndicate wants that? And FIFA's got far more lucrative opportunities for graft than fixing critical matches and risking the death of their sport and their franchise.


June 1st, 2014 at 11:35 AM ^

I guess what surprises me is that this comes as a surprise to anybody.

The article, of course, is about fixing "friendly" matches (exhibition matches between clubs or countries with absolutely nothing on the line), not world cup matches.  These type matches have been notorious for years for the shady goings on from both the refs and the players.  Other than the details in the article, which are both sad and hilarious, I don't really think this is covering any new ground.

If you're going to bet on soccer--or any other sport for that matter--wait until something is actually on the line, and the players (and officials) have lucrative careers to protect.


June 1st, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

Why do people buy penny stocks in companies they've never heard of? Why are there still people running Nigerian scams on Skype?

Some people will bet on anything. You can place an over/under bet on how many yellow cards will be shown in a match (the number is 1 1/2 in today's US friendly). Talk about something that would be easy to fix if you controlled the match official.


June 2nd, 2014 at 10:08 AM ^

That's the biggest reason I don't have any worries about this particular kind of match-fixing ever hitting the World Cup. There's real money to made from a Cup, winning the construction contracts, owning the right real estate, doling out the exclusive advertising deals. Officials in the South Africa Federation might listen to these Singapore yokels but the FIFA committee is rubbing elbows with sheikhs and oligarchs and they don't have time for this low-end garbage.