While most of the attention surrounding rampant match-fixing in the world’s game is rightfully focused on organized crime figures like Dan Tan, there’s another type of manipulation not directly tied to betting that might be just as rampant. It’s the “fix of convenience” when the stakes aren’t millions in wagers, but the fortunes of one of the teams involved and kickbacks for throwing a game that–at least for one side–doesn’t seem to matter. To wit: An anonymous Australian player says he and his teammates were once told by their owner to throw a match to help the opponent gain promotion.
The unidentified player says his life would be in danger if he named the club.
“Just before we were about to go for the warm-up, the president came in the changerooms,” he said.
“There was nothing unusual about that because he was always around the group and we were very familiar with him.
“But this time he was almost apologetic when he talked to us.
“He told us ‘we must lose, no questions, we must lose’. ‘If we don’t there could be some serious trouble for your careers’.”
The player was stunned and so too were his teammates.
The president had supposedly made a pact with the opposition president to fix the game.
The player doubts that the game was pre-planned because of betting.
The opposition team faced a possible loss of millions of dollars in revenue if it lost.
Promotion would guarantee greater sponsors and a lucrative six-figure sum for TV rights.
“I was lost for words when the president said this,” he said.
This situation sounds very much like the type of match-fixing infecting Italian football, the type that got Antonio Conte banned for 10 months; with promotion and relegation on the line at the end of a season, clubs with nothing to play for agree to throw matches to “help” another club.
In a way, this type of manipulation is more insidious that Tan and his fixers. While FIFA and police organizations could conceivably stop outside interests from paying players and referees to fix matches (logically possible, but obviously daunting due to the sheer scope), it will be much more difficult to root out agreements–like this one related by the anonymous Australian player–between clubs, without the outward signs of money moving via online bookkeepers. Money changes hands behind closed doors, and it’s up to the parties involved to blow the whistle on others in the game willing to sell their souls for a “bonus.”