Last week, Standardsport published the first part of this story, Here is the continuation.
In sport, everyone hopes they have a chance of winning if they give their best — even when the odds are stacked against them. But what if the odds were fixed in advance against you and your team?
Match-fixing has taken many forms over the years, from individual acts of deception to entire teams conspiring to guarantee the “right” result. In an arena of supposed integrity, there have been many extraordinary examples of suspect sportsmanship.
Italian football’s integrity relegated
In 2006, Italian football’s reputation was undermined when recordings revealed that Serie A clubs had tried to influence refereeing appointments.
Juventus’ Serie A titles in 2005 and 2006 were surrounded by doping allegations. Italian police investigations unearthed a separate scandal — phone taps exposed conversations in which senior club executives sought to manipulate refereeing appointments. AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina were all implicated. Juventus were stripped of their titles and relegated to Serie B with a hefty points deduction. The sanction came shortly after Italy’s victory over France in the 2006 World Cup final.
Basketball ref’s personal foul
A popular bet in basketball is to guess the final, combined points total — an outcome that could be easily influenced by the referee.
During the 2005 and 2006 NBA seasons, referee Tim Donaghy fixed games to feed his gambling habit and pay debts owed to criminals. He influenced point tallies by calling frequent personal fouls, allowing teams to score bonus points. A 2007 FBI investigation into the New York mafia uncovered his activities. Donaghy served 15 months in jail and the NBA subsequently banned its referees from all forms of gambling.
The most infamous ‘no ball’ of all
In 2010, a Pakistan cricket agent was approached by undercover journalists asking if three of his players might “spot-fix” a Test match.
Spot-fixing is where a player agrees in advance to affect the game in a particular way at a specific point in proceedings. Bets are then placed using this inside information. In this case, no balls were deliberately bowled by Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir in a Test match against England. The players’ spot-fix was revealed in a newspaper sting. All three players were jailed for corruption and banned from cricket for between five and 10 years.
An olympian effort to lose
Women’s doubles badminton at the 2012 Olympics was marred by controversy as pairs actually attempted to lose their matches. But why?
At the London Games, a round-robin format was introduced for badminton rather than a straight knockout. By the final group games in the women’s doubles, teams had worked out that by losing they could avoid stronger pairs until later in the competition. Two pairs from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia made a series of basic and bizarre errors to “throw” their games. The pairs were disqualified for not using their “best efforts to win” and for bringing their sport into disrepute.
In 2013, snooker authorities charged Stephen Lee, once ranked in the sport’s top five, with multiple match-fixing.
It was claimed that in 2008 and 2009 Lee either deliberately lost the first frame, the entire match, or lost by a predetermined score. Gamblers who had bribed Lee in advance then bet for profit against him, making around £100 000. The games Lee agreed to throw even included a first round match at the 2009 World Championship. Lee was found guilty and received a 12-year ban from snooker.