While a steroid controversy has embroiled two of America’s favorite sports, football and baseball, Europe’s favorite sport soccer has been plagued by a different culprit: match-fixing.
Match-fixing occurs when a match is played to an already pre-determined outcome. Gambling syndicates and organized crime are often to blame for influencing the outcome of these matches for purposes of sports betting.
Europol, the European Union’s agency that handles criminal intelligence, recently reported that they have deemed suspicious a total of 380 soccer matches played in Europe. Furthermore, Europol identified 425 corrupt officials, players, and serious criminals involved with match-fixing, spanning across 15 different countries. Europol even believes some of the matches implicated were World Cup qualifying matches and UEFA Champions League matches, arguably the most prestigious competitions in all of world soccer. The investigators estimate that the criminals made around €8 million – with the highest bribe coming in at €140,000.
It’s not clear how this will affect fans’ perception of soccer, but it will seriously undermine the integrity of the game, much like steroids have in baseball and football.
For more information on the current match-fixing scandal plaguing European soccer, check out the following articles:
- FIFA: Governments must help in match-fixing fight (CNN)
- Investigation unveils scale of match-fixing (ESPN)
- Europol: investigators identify 380 fixed football matches (The Guardian)