How does football stop match-fixing?

The recent Europol investigation into match fixing has highlighted how widespread the problem is in football but how do we stop it?

The recent Europol figures have revealed the astonishing figures that just under 700 matches have been subject to fixing with various players and officials involved.

It’s a grey area because there are more ways than ever before for criminal parties to get in touch with individuals who have influence in terms of being able to physically throw a match.

The most obvious way to stop it is to treat the people involved even harsher than they are already being treated.

FIFA is quite right to call on authorities to hand out longer prison sentences and more severe punishments because this is the most natural and immediately available deterrent.

“Match-fixing and match-manipulation is a global problem and is not going to go away tomorrow. For people outside of football, the custodial sentences are too weak, and offer little to deter someone from getting involved in match-fixing,” said Ralf Mutschke, Fifa's head of security.

The other change which could be made by football’s governing bodies is to change the way players are represented around the world.

Match fixing works on the basis of players being approached by officials who have been approached by someone else.

If governing bodies can change the way players are represented and effectively make access to those players more exclusive, then it reduces the chance that they will be approached in order to throw a game.

However, it’s not a simple process because any criminal organisation will find a way of getting a tea lady or a cleaner in a stadium to inadvertently pass along a message.

It’s an old cliché saying but when there’s a will there’s a way but making access more exclusive makes approaching players more difficult which is a start.

There is also a good argument that clubs can do more and take on a bigger responsibility to ensure that their players are warned about the risk and threat of match fixing in the game.

Standard regulations exist where professionals are required to report incidents where they have been approached but it’s not that simple if a player’s life is being threatened or his family are being threatened.

It’s unclear how this will be stopped but Europol must be praised for highlighting the extent of the problem, which officials now have to undoubtedly take more seriously.

How do you think it should be tackled?

image: © Matthew Wilkinson

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