Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWhat the match-fixing scandal really says about football - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough What the match-fixing scandal really says about football - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

What the match-fixing scandal really says about football

In an era when football casts disparaging looks towards the likes of cycling and athletics at their seemingly endless list of doping scandals and moral failings, should we have been looking a little closer to home?

Last week Europol revealed that a total of 680 previous football matches within the continent are under investigation after suspicions that their outcomes had been fixed. At least one of the games – believed to be Liverpool’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Hungarian side Debrecen in 2009 – is alleged to have been staged in England. This revelation dents the trust held in football by British supporters that our beloved game is devoid of cheats and wrongdoing.

The media on our shores have been all too keen to point mockingly towards the Italian game or on occasion further afield to Eastern Europe. However, why have we so rarely questioned the happenings on our own doorstep? After all, Bruce Grobelaar, John Fashanu and Hans Segers were accused of throwing top-flight English games as recently as the early nineties. Matt Le Tissier came clean about his failed attempt to beat the bookies during a match in 1995 and Southampton team-mate Claus Lundekvam admitted just last July that several Premiership footballers manufactured situations during a match in order to top up their lavish salaries.

Perhaps British football is just one of many victims of the globalisation of the modern game. As you take your seat in a packed Premier League stadium at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, all the action that unfurls in front of you is beamed live by satellite to millions if not billions of football supporters around the globe. When you consider the amount of viewers worldwide that fancy a flutter on the Wigan versus Aston Villa match and furthermore that perhaps just one of these people has the money, the wherewithal and the absence in moral fibre to engineer the outcome of the game in their favour, you are faced with a daunting but very real prospect. Perhaps the only thing that’s real throughout the 90 minutes.

It would certainly be a bitter pill for any football fan to swallow should it be found that their team’s famous second half fight back from 3 goals down against their greatest adversaries turned out to be nothing more than a lie. This type of outcome could turn supporters away from the game.

Although initially met with fear and trepidation, the news that Europol delivered to the football community last week was definitely good news, news that the perpetrators cheating supporters out of their game are being watched and will be exposed. It was also a wake up call for the world’s most popular sport, which has effectively been napping on the job.

While Europol’s intervention may force those behind match fixing into the shadows for now, we – as football fans – can only hope that stricter controls, more comprehensive monitoring and greater transparency are put in place in the future so that match fixing can be eradicated once and for all.