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Match-fixing scandals in football

    Match-fixing cartoon

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    Match-fixing is an illegal influence on the results of a sporting event. Match-fixing causes disrepute to the sport and the team involved.

    Match-fixing started when sports began as the history of match-fixing in football shows, though today, the culprits are identified and disciplined accordingly.

    Despite the tough measures in place to curtail it, corruption in football is still a thing in some areas. There have been incidences of match-fixing even in the big European Leagues in the recent past.

    Below are some examples of match-fixing scandals that have happened in football.


    This case (1980) marks the first and was not going to be the last time match-fixing plagued Italian football. It resulted in two Serie A giants, Lazio, and AC Milan being relegated.

    Three other Serie A teams (Perugia, Avellino, and Bologna) each got 5 points knocked off their 1980/1981 season campaign. Palermo and Taranto, who were in Serie B at the time also lost 5 points in their season campaign during the same period.

    A total of at least 20 players and 2 club presidents were banned from all football activities from between 3 months to several years or permanently disbarred. The said individuals were caught selling football matches for money.

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    Austria vs. West Germany

    This scandal was a different case of match-fixing in the list. No investigations or punishments were conducted after this incident. It happened right in front of everyone’s eyes.

    During the World Cup games in Spain, West Germany and the neighboring Austrians knew that the match would end with a 1-0 win. They knew that both teams would progress ahead of Algeria in the group stage.

    When the Germans scored after ten minutes, there was no attempt to score from both sides. The game ended with a 1-0, and despite the complaints, nothing was changed. This match led to international tournaments being played simultaneously.


    In 2006 there was another Italian football scandal. Italian football has been reported to have the highest profile in the history of match-fixing in football.

    Police in Italy captured some phone calls which involved big clubs in Italy. The conversations involved officials working with the referees to favor certain players in their matches.

    The officials and referees were caught, both clubs were punished, and their points were reduced in the European competitions. The biggest culprits were Juventus which led to most of their players being suspended from the club.

    More: Is match-fixing a thing in modern-day football

    How does match fixing work in football?

    There is a specific criterion that the parties involved use to manipulate the results of a game. A game needs to meet the elements discussed below:

    A popular league

    For any football match to be selected, it needs to be in a popular league because in a widely known league, many people will be interested in placing bets. Betting is where match-fixers mint their money.

    High chances of winning several predictions 

    Most gamblers and match-fixers prefer putting their stakes on teams that hold the first position or teams promising to win. Some will try to predict the number of goals since anyone would expect a stronger team to score three or more goals, thus selecting the over 2.5 option.

    When the football club officials and players are paid, the results will be affected such that the stronger team is beaten by, the weaker team with not more than three goals.

    This manipulation causes all predictions that favor the strong team, including over 2.5 predictions and double chances, all to fail.

    Football matches with little regulation

    Match-fixing football betting will not involve matches under strict regulations such as cup finals.

    It is available in common matches like weekly leagues but accessing the matches will depend on who you know.

    More: 8 mistakes to avoid in sports betting

    Does match-fixing happen in football?

    We really don’t know to what extent match-fixing happens but it surely does happen in modern football. The stories above can give you an idea of how it works. Modern technology also makes such activities a tad bit more discreet.

    Sportsradar, a sports data collection, and analysis company also look into possibilities of match-fixing from the data they analyze. The company has been able to spot match-fixing patterns in the thousands of football matches that they collect data on.

    Match-fixing happens so that some shady bookmakers can reap huge profits. To be successful, they have to be in bed with teams, officials, or players. In most cases, all these parties have to coordinate their activities.

    Who’s the victim in these scandals? Mostly sports bettors because it is their money that match-fixers are after.

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    Match-fixing is not only isolated in Europe but is a worldwide problem wherever there’s an active sports league.

    This illegal activity has also given rise to another unscrupulous group of people claiming to be insiders in match-fixing rings. These individuals try to sell their ‘intel’ to bettors/gamblers with the promise of high returns.

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    In most cases, they are conmen looking to take advantage of bettors’ desire to win. If you’re a bettor, beware of such scams. The sad thing about these scams is that sometimes match results may align with the scammers’ claims thus giving them some level of credibility.

    Avoid anyone trying to sell you fixed matches and always stick to whatever strategies you always use when placing your bets. Match-fixing happens, but it’s kind of privy to the bigger organizations and not ordinary people.

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