Match fixing, spot fixing, and all other attempts to eliminate unpredict-
ability of sports contests strike at the very heart of sport’s popular appeal
and are inextricably related to sports gambling. Gambling connections in-
evitably raise questions about organised crime. “It is clear”, IOC president
Jacques Rogge has observed, “there is a significant problem when bet-
ting leads to the manipulation of competitions and therefore threatens the
integrity of sport. Cheating driven by betting is undoubtedly the biggest
threat to sport after doping.”
Three of the ten categories of integrity threat Monitor Quest has identified are
primarily linked to gambling: match fixing, spot fixing, and systemic wrongdo-
ing. Two others – “conduct detrimental” and organised cheating and collusion
at the club level –may also be linked to gambling but not as decisively. Given
that gambling is a common element to so many diverse integrity threats,
different types of cases may bleed into each other. In the ongoing European
football scandal, for example, literally hundreds of matches are alleged to
have been fixed, many by players and officials who had been identified by
the “fixers” as compulsive gamblers and therefore vulnerable to criminal so-
licitation. This story highlights another significant aspect of gambling-related
threats to sports integrity: the gambling interests most likely to manipulate
sports outcomes are criminal rather than legal. Legal sports betting is tightly
monitored and regulated, and the proprietors of legal gambling operations
have the same interest in preserving the integrity of sport as other legitimate
constituencies. In the huge illicit gambling market, however, anything goes.
Match fixing
is a time-honoured form of individual or group cheating. The
first recorded incident occurred at the Olympics of 388 B.C.E., during which
the boxer Eupolus paid three opponents to take a dive in their bouts. Fix-
ing an athletic contest has been a relatively straightforward affair that can be
accomplished in many ways. Athletes in one-on-one competitions may, like
Eupolus’ foes, deliberately take a dive; in team sports, an individual position
player may try to throw a game by fumbling a crucial play or letting the ball
into the goal or by simply underperforming. Game officials may fix outcomes
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
1...,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29 31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,...124