Match-Fixing in Soccer: Unraveling Web of Corruption and Its Impact on Sports Betting

In this article, we’ll look specifically at match fixing’s impact on the beautiful game. We’ll check out the current state of play, and the impact it’s had on sports betting. 

Joseph Halliday

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Match fixing has been going on for as long as there have been organized sports. In the past few years alone we’ve seen high-profile cases in the likes of boxing, cricket, tennis, snooker, and certainly in soccer

The Current Situation

To the uninitiated, ‘match-fixing’ refers to deliberately playing a certain way, or arranging a certain outcome. Obviously, that goes against the most basic rule of sports, which is that the game is supposed to be fair and unpredictable. 

There are various ways in which match-fixing takes place. Its extent usually depends on how many people are involved

If it’s a few members of a team, it’s certainly possible to fix the outcome of a whole match – they might arrange to lose, for example, or to have a low-scoring game. 

More often, only one or two players are involved. They can’t determine the overall outcome themselves, but they might guarantee to pick up a yellow or red card, for example, or score their own goal. 

Arguably the most famous match fixing scandal of recent times was ‘Calciopoli’, in which a number of Italian clubs – most notably Juventus – fixed games. Actually, though, it’s relatively rare to have fixing at such high levels – there are so many people paying attention that the risks of being caught are massive. The vast majority of match-fixing takes place at lower levels, where there are fewer people watching, and the players earn far less legitimate money. 

How It’s Affected Betting

Match fixing isn’t done for fun. The whole point of it is that the criminal organizers will place wagers on the outcomes, and pay the players to ensure they happen. 

Trying to eliminate match fixing is one of several good reasons why sports betting sites nowadays, such as those listed on, go to such lengths to ‘know’ their customers, including through actual KYC checks. 

It has also led to the creation of advanced algorithms to try and detect suspect betting patterns. To give a very basic example, if someone places a $100,000 bet on a random player in the Mexican third division to get a yellow card… that’s going to get flagged. 

Elsewhere, this is also one of the reasons upper betting limits are put in place. Of course, bookies want to protect themselves from taking too big of a loss. But they also have no interest in getting tricked into a big bet by a criminal, who’s already almost 100% sure they’ll win. 

What’s Being Done

Huge amounts of legitimate money are made from soccer. As such, the authorities obviously have a massive interest in ensuring the integrity of the sport is protected. 

We’ve already mentioned the extremely complex algorithms created to detect suspect betting patterns. These are already highly effective but are improving all the time. 

The obvious drawback to those, of course, is that they’ll only work on legitimate, legal sportsbooks that provide their data. Plenty of match-fixing is done with illicit bookmakers, and the only real way to combat this is to get to the grassroots issue. 

Soccer players who are already extremely well-paid have absolutely no need to risk match-fixing. As noted, the vast majority is conducted with players far further down the pyramid. These young men tend to not only be more vulnerable, having less guidance around them, but – in a far cry from the Ronaldos and Messis of the world – struggling to get by financially. 

Ideally, more money would trickle down from the top teams to the lower levels, and even from the bigger football associations to those in less wealthy countries. Better education is also necessary here, to tell young players that – while a quick buck is certainly tempting – it’s not worth risking your entire career over. 

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