Match-fixing allegations blight football once more
Football has been suffering from an image problem of late. The ongoing row about corruption within the higher ranks of world football’s governing body FIFA has been the main focus of drama in recent weeks. Sadly events on the pitch have started bringing the game under question after a number of incidents where allegations of match-fixing have come to light. This is a serious blight on the sport and one which should be punishable with the harshest penalties if any one or more party is found guilty of such an act.
The most recent allegations, reported on the BBC Sport website today, involve a number of players in South Korea who have been accused of taking money to influence the outcome of results in certain K-League matches. Eight of the accused players play at Daejeon Citizen who are alleged to have lost a game in suspicious circumstances in April against the Pohang Steelers with one of the latter team’s players also accused of placing a bet on his team to win 3-0 (which they did). Another game between Gwangju FC and Busan I’Park is also under question as the Korean authorities have decided to get to grips with the allegations that have been made.
But this is far from an isolated incident to have cropped up recently. In Italy, which as a nation is no stranger to corruption in football, there are allegations regarding the latest claims of match-fixing which came out last week. There are some fifteen matches under question (with more than double that number potentially under suspicion) with the majority of the games involved coming in the Lega Pro, Italy’s lower divisions. The most startling news in relation to this story was that such a high-profile figure such as Giuseppe Signori, the former Lazio and Italy star, was arrested in connection with the allegations and it seems that just when Italian football recovers from one scandal, another one comes along to drag its name into the mud once more.
Also last week came allegations of further betting irregularities in the international friendly match between Nigeria and Argentina which finished 4-1 to the former. The incident in question came at the very end of the game in which five minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of a meaningless friendly but in which a further three minutes were played beyond that given. During that time a questionable penalty decision allowed Argentina to score a goal from the penalty spot and it was revealed after the game that some irregular betting patterns in the dying moments of the game had aroused the suspicions of the authorities.
Of course these are allegations and one hopes that the authorities at FIFA, who recently announced that they would join forces with Interpol to try and eradicate match-fixing from football, can really make an example of those who, in the future, are found guilty of such a crime by issuing lifetime bans or heavy financial penalties. With FIFA’s name currently under the spotlight at the moment then its partnership with Interpol can be one small step towards reassuring real football fans that the game is to be clean and above suspicion in the future.