Nathan's Notations: Corruption in sports

It was revealed recently that match-fixing is apparently rampant in professional soccer.

On Monday, Europol, a European police agency, said that a 19-month investigation revealed a widespread occurrence of match-fixing. The agency listed 680 matches as suspicious. Included on the list were 150 international matches, games in the World Cup and European Championship qualifying rounds, and two Champions League matches.

There’s been a lot of speculation among fans over what games were fixed and whether the entire match was rigged, or just certain things people could be on that wouldn’t directly affect the outcome of the game.

Officials wouldn’t name any teams or players who have been linked to the investigation. However, they did confirm that one of the suspicious matches was a Champions League match that took place in England sometime in the last four years.

Fans have taken to social media trying to figure out what teams were named in the investigation and what games were fixed. While many fans suspect it was a game between Liverpool and Debrecen, nothing has been confirmed, and Liverpool have gone on record saying they haven’t been contacted by Europol.

Generally, those fixing a game will look to alter the result of a game by bribing players or the officials of a game. On Monday, it was announced that 50 people have been arrested regarding the allegations.

For me, as a longtime soccer fan, this was shocking. I’ve always assumed some cheating probably took place, but never would I have guessed it was this widespread. It’s a bit jarring to sports fans, hearing that so many games may have been rigged.

All in all, the past few years have been a bad run for purists. First was all the steroid scandals that plagued the MLB for years. Then, more recently, finding out Lance Armstrong cheated his way to seven Tour de France titles. Now this.

Really, though, corruption in sports isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1919, the Chicago White Sox (often called the Black Sox) threw the World Series, losing to the Cincinnati Reds. Eight players on the White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw World Series games.

Personally, I’ve never really been against betting on sports, but now, as I realize the enormity of the problem, betting on games seems to be the root of the problem of match-fixing. The match-fixers stand to make huge profits off of gambling on the fixed games. I’m not sure what the answer is to getting the corruption out of sports, but I think most would agree something needs to be done. It takes away from the beauty of the game and brings doubt to the mind after any game that ends with a botched call or a missed play.

It will be interesting in the coming days to see what happens regarding the investigation. I think it’s still too early to speculate what will come of the investigation. It will be something that I will keep an eye on, though. I hope that, eventually, corruption in sports will be able to be minimized. It draws away from the greatness of games and adds an ugly tinge to them.