OT: Soccer Match-Fixing Ring

Submitted by UMgradMSUdad on February 5th, 2013 at 8:24 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Organized crime gangs have fixed or tried to fix hundreds of soccer matches around the world in recent years, including World Cup qualifiers, European Championship qualifiers and and two UEFA Champions League games, Europol announced Monday.



The only thing new about this investigation is the scope, involving looking at 380 matches in Europe and another 300 in the rest of the world. Fifty people have already been arrested.



February 5th, 2013 at 9:10 AM ^

Several thoughts

1 this includes the champions league, wc qualifiers and euro matches. For people who don't pay attention to soccer this is basically the equivalent of fixing the nfl playoffs

2 it's hard to believe they could have involved the players at that level. It's one thing to fix the first round of the fa cup by paying off a player and part time plumber from whogivesafuck town, but players at the top levels have so much money already and so much to lose for comparatively little gain

3 it's hard to believe this goes on as often as it does everywhere else and not the us. At least those American sports with a large enough international following (the nba) you have to think this is happening more often than we know


February 5th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

One of the UCL matches under investigation is 2009: Liverpool v. Debreccen @ Anfield. 

It's Debreccen (Danish?) that is under investigation.  Agree that the 'pool players are paid more than enough that they wouldn't take the risk for match fixing.  Would guess the salary structure is a lot lower at Debreccen.



February 5th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

...because Debrecen only lost 0-1 at Anfield, and again 0-1 at home against Liverpool.

In the other four group-stage matches they were outscored 17-5.

With all due respect to Hungarian soccer (I lived there for a while and count myself a fan) even their league champions are not, typically, in Liverpool's class. It's strange that they're being investigated for a result that really should be counted as something of a success. It's like finding out Butler was being investigated for point shaving in the final against Kentucky.

Here's UEFA's match report from the game:


Maybe all the bets were on the first-scorer pool and they're being investigated for letting Dirk Kuyt score?



February 5th, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

Match fixing is the least of City's problems.  Kompany may be out another three weeks. 

And as crazy a bastard Ballotelli is, City was an entirely different team with him on the pitch.  Not sure platooning Dzeko and Tevez to replace him will provide enough firepower.


February 5th, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

I am a City fan, and I don't think Balotelli's transfer is really that big a deal.  He has been non-existent this year when he was on the pitch, and all of the good he may of done on the pitch, was offset by constant yellow or red cards.  After he came through for us last year big time, I was less than impressed with how he has played this season.  City's bigger problems are in the midfield.  Tevez, Dzeko and Aguero are top notch strikers, but Silva has been out of form for most of the year and Nasri has never been on my favorites list.  Milner is the only guy ballin' in the midfield.  Having Yaya Toure and Kompany out is a real blow.  It is just not our year.  United looks strong and more than likely will win the league this year.


February 5th, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

I don't watch Man City all too much, but I think Milner is playing way better right now than Nasri. 

Milner's combination with Silva looked pretty good in the last game even though the game ended in a draw.

What was the formation when Maicon came in for Silva?  At first I thought it was a strange substitution, but it seemed like it sparked more attack.


February 5th, 2013 at 9:35 AM ^

Although I'm definitely surprised by the scope of this, I'm definitely not surprised that there were rigged matches.  Since it's the biggest sport in the world, and since organized crime is not exclusive to the US, it only makes sense that soccer would be targeted for a money making scheme.  

I'm also surprised that they would be able to get players from the highest levels to participate in rigging matches.  Are they victim to the Patrick Ewing lifestyle of "yeah, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot of money"?  Meaning, are some of them broke?  Maybe I thought our NFL, NBA, and MLB players had that market cornered.  Guess I was wrong.  

I think that the officials must be the easiest to dupe into taking the bait in these situations.  Although their salaries are relatively high given their workload, they still make much less relative to the other people who could affect a match and/or game.  

If anyone thinks that Tim Donaghy didn't bet on games he officiated, think again.  If anyone thinks that Tim Donaghy was the only official in our four major sports that bet on games in their respective league, think again.   

Here's a link to what Donaghy is up to.



February 5th, 2013 at 9:48 AM ^

I was just going to post this thread.   Really curious in Soccer how this would go down considering the small margins.   Basketball is by far the easiest because with a large spread a star player can easily miss a few shots without anyone suspecting to get the score in line.

In Hockey and Soccer the scoring plays are so few and it involves so much more teamwork I wouldn't think 1 player could have enough of an impact to make the outcome  certain.    Also in basketball you can try and justify it in your head by still winning the games.  In Soccer tanking certainly means a loss.   I think it is going to come out that whole teams or mulitple players on a team were tanking.  

What do you guys think?   I'm not sure of the cultures over there, but I could see lower level teams that are not in danger of relegation, but need money getting involved in some shady stuff where the owners and the coaches get involved.  

Zvornik Bosna

February 5th, 2013 at 10:06 AM ^

You can most certainly get a team to tank or go after the teams best player. If you get a forward or attacking midfielder to quit on their team the likely hood of scoring decreases. If a defender allows for the opposing player to pass them with ease, goals can be scored. So individual play is still critical. What is also overlooked and more likely could be the cause are referees themselves. They can point to the spot and offer a penalty at their discretion. What makes it difficult is that a penalty could probably be given at any time a player enters the box. Also the betting in Europe is so wide ranged that you can bet on anything from a specific player receiving a yellow card to the half that they'll be receiving it.  


February 5th, 2013 at 11:05 AM ^

An individual could let a guy past him to score but that would stand out quite a bit.    With only a few goals scored a game that play will be analyzed heavily.   1 defenseman could influence the game but it's far from a guarantee.  These guys are placing millions of dollars on the bet.  I would think they would want more confidence than that. 


February 5th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

The next-to-last Italian scandal involved club management conspiring with league officials to have certain referees assigned to certain matches. The German scandal also involved a corrupt referee.

But Italy's last time around was a little different:

After a member of Serie B side Cremonese suffered a serious car crash, tests showed that he and other members of the team had been drugged with sleeping pills. The culprit was one of their own teammates, Marco Paolini, who had been attempting to pay off a mounting series of gambling debts by arranging a series of defeats for his bookies. Cremonese's unexpected winning streak had forced him to take desperate measures.

That seems to be, at the same time, a reflection of how difficult it can be for an individual player to fix a match (he'd tried, unsuccessfully, several times in a row) and also just how far a desperate player might go in the attempt.

There's also this, a couple of paragraphs later.

Paolini would often boast of contacts with big-name players that he didn't have in the hope of earning a payout for a result that had actually in fact come about naturally.


I have vague memories of an Italian scandal long ago that involved drugging the visiting squad's water supply, but those were apparently more honorable times when teams would cheat to win a game instead of a bet.

Zvornik Bosna

February 5th, 2013 at 10:07 AM ^

This report does not implement any top clubs or countries. European and World Cup qualifiers involve many nations where players are not receiving a huge pay check for what they produce on the field. To give an example, no one would care about the European Championship qualifier outcome of Kazakhstan vs the Faroe Islands. These are the types of matches targeted. The World Cup Qualifying involves even more countries across the world that are in this type of situation.

For the Champions League matches, there are a few group stage spots available through  the playoff stages in which clubs from many of the smaller domestic leagues get a chance to make it. When these teams play teams that they know will destroy them, there is probably incentive to do this. They'd have to clarify whether the betting occurred  for the Champions League playoffs or during the Champions League itself.

Since Juventus received a very harsh punishment for their involvement with match fixing a few years ago, I think it opened up the eyes of big clubs to monitor this as much as possible. The difference in money from the top domestic league and the second tier is huge, and more importantly reflected in player contracts.        


February 5th, 2013 at 10:32 AM ^

While many small countries would have been targeted for this Switzerland, Germany, and Turkey were all named in the original report. Turkey isn't surprisng, as Fenerbahce and a few other Turkish teams got nailed for match fixing a couple of years ago, but Germany isn't exactly a small country. I'd guess they were 2. or 3. Bundesliga matches, but I don't know. Switzerland is hilarious because it's right in Blatter's backyard.

los barcos

February 5th, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^


If I agree with your statement here: 



Since Juventus received a very harsh punishment for their involvement with match fixing a few years ago, I think it opened up the eyes of big clubs to monitor this as much as possible.        




That is like saying because Miami, or Ohio, or USC all got caught cheating, other top-level NCAA teams are cracking down – this almost assuredly isn’t the case. People are going to do anything for more money  - lie, cheat, hell, maybe even make up fake girlfriends. 

In fact, the story about Juventus I think proves the contrary and more ominous point – if one of the biggest teams in one of the biggest countries for the most popular sport in the world fixes matches, then anyone and everyone could potentially be doing it, not just those obscure Turkish teams.



February 5th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

We've had a few threads on this investigation in the past--here are links to the Spiegel articles that broke the story in Germany two years ago:



Most of the incidents described there (well, not the Togo fake-national-team I admit) have the odor of a bribed match official. It doesn't take much for a referee to turn a scoreline: soccer's a sport of very few goals and it's a rare match where there isn't a penalty-box incident that would give a ref the opportunity to award a penalty if he chose. I can't think of another sport where an official has so much power in a single whistle. Boxing, I guess, where the referee can stop a match and award victory. That's about it.

Seven goals, all penalties? I know where I'd start my investigation of that one.

I've said this before, but to me the ideal match fix is one where nothing unusual happens and no questions are ever asked. Bets aren't just made on the winner or the goal differential; there's a whole plethora of bets available: exact final score, first or next goal scorer, time of the first goal (you bet on a 5-minute interval), etc. Just guide the game to a final of 3:1 instead of 2:0 and you can make someone a lot of money.