Outside of the rogues gallery currently in charge of the sports governing body, the biggest threat to the integrity of soccer facing the game is the specter of match-fixing. While organized crime syndicates across the globe are turning to match-fixing as a means of making money, Southeast Asian groups have turned the practice into a veritable gold mine. Cracking down is difficult, and it’s often a struggle to find proof of wrongdoing. Hence, the Singapore FA has turned to polygraph tests administered to players after games to both identify conspirators and deter future fixes.
Speaking at the Leaders In Football business conference at Stamford Bridge this week, the General Secretary of the Singapore FA, Winston Lee, sang the praises of a system that now requires all players to agree to be randomly tested.
“We introduced polygraph tests and it is now compulsory for all players to go through them.
“They have to sign a form agreeing to the polygraph tests, and we can have a random test. All players are tested for fitness, and so on, and now they have to have a random polygraph test as well.
“We have taken a very strong stand against match-fixing and we are quite happy that it is working. You can never totally eradicate the problem but it is realistic to try and reduce it and this is one way we have done this.”
Meanwhile, FIFPro, the international union of professional soccer players has spoken out against a plan by Bulgarian club Lokomotic Plovdiv to put their players and coaches through polygraph tests. FIFPro’s position is that polygraphs are not entirely reliable (this is true) and that they should only rightfully be used in a defensive, not prosecutory, fashion.
Plovdiv’s owner ordered the tests after a shock defeat, a slightly different circumstance than the Singapore FA’s league-wide program, and a pretty clear abuse of power.
As long as match-fixing remains a prevalent problem—and there’s no end in site with the world growing ever smaller through technology and the proliferation of online bookmakers—leagues and associations will look for was to combat the problem. The polygraph policy is certainly one way to tackle the issue.
Our suggestion is to spike the players’ water with sodium pentothal and barrage them with questions about fixes. Totally doable.