Home corruption Concern over explosion in match-fixing around the globe

Concern over explosion in match-fixing around the globe

Andreas Krannich, Managing Director of Sportradar Integrity Services. Supplied image.

Europe tops the list for the most amount of suspicious sports matches, with 525 suspicious matches picked up over the last year, while in Africa 51 suspicious sports matches have been reported.

Johannesburg – There has been an explosion in the number of match-fixing attempts in the past 12 months around the globe, with more than 900 games in 10 sport codes across 76 countries deemed to be suspicious.

This is according to a brand new report recently published by multinational corporation Sportradar Integrity Services.

Europe tops the list for the most amount of suspicious sports matches, with 525 suspicious matches picked up over the last year, while in Africa 51 suspicious sports matches have been reported.

The report also revealed that soccer is the sport that has been most targeted by match-fixers.

Out of the 900 sports games that were flagged for match-fixing over the last year, 694 of them were soccer games from around the globe, 51 percent of the total 2021 betting turnover was also staked on football.

Other sports that were targeted by match-fixers include basketball, tennis, Esports, ice hockey, table tennis, cricket, volleyball, and beach volleyball.

The latest figures also represents a 2,4 percent increase in suspicious matches in the past year, compared to 2019.

Sportradar’s bet-monitoring service, the Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS), was used to uncover suspicious activity, which is at its highest level in the 17 years since the system was introduced.

The increase in suspicious activity arose alongside record levels of global sports betting turnover, which Sportradar now estimates at more than €1.45 trillion (R23.95 trillion).

According to the report, in 2021, approximately €165 million was generated in match-fixing betting profit.

“Organised crime syndicates are funded by revenue generated from betting fraud, which can, in turn, finance other illicit activities,” says Andreas Krannich, Managing Director of Sportradar Integrity Services.

“The overall sum generated through betting corruption last year may even be greater, as this figure does not include any other potential financial schemes such as money laundering.”

While the number of suspicious matches detected in 2021 reached a record high, Sportradar has underscored its commitment to protecting the integrity of global sport by working with its partners to support 65 sanctions: 46 sporting sanctions, 15 criminal sanctions, and four sanctions that were both sporting and criminal.

These were delivered in 11 countries across soccer and tennis, with lifetime bans handed down to eight athletes.

Sportradar, which works with more than 80 sports governing bodies and federations globally, says the detection of this record number of suspicious matches in the past year has “exposed the serious, ongoing threat match-fixing presents to the integrity of global sport at all levels”.

“There is no easy short-term solution to the match-fixing issue, and we’re likely to see similar numbers of suspicious matches in 2022, if not more,” says Krannich.

“As the market has developed, so the threat of match fixing has evolved. Now, would-be corruptors take an increasingly direct approach to match-fixing and betting corruption, with athletes messaged directly via social-media platforms.

“We can take what we observed in 2021 and ask ourselves as fans of sport, what lessons can we learn?”

“At Sportradar, we believe in adopting a progressive approach to integrity protection through bet monitoring and intelligence gathering. This has been proven to deliver sanctions against those involved in match-fixing. Preventative measures, such as educating athletes and stakeholders, are also crucially important in the long-term fight against match-fixing.”

Other key findings within the report indicated that lower-level competitions in soccer are significantly affected. It emerged that 50% of suspicious cases in domestic leagues came from the third tier or lower, including regional and youth soccer.

September and October saw the highest number of suspicious matches detected with 105 and 104, respectively. This corresponds with the start of the traditional soccer season.

Sunday is the most common day of the week for suspicious sporting fixtures to occur, accounting for 22.5% of cases, followed by Wednesday at 16.8% and Saturday at 15.6%, reflecting the large number of soccer matches played on these days of the week.

“Assessing the year ahead, the report forecasts a further increase in the number of suspicious matches set to be detected in 2022,” says Krannich.

“Sportradar Integrity Services’ report into match-fixing and betting corruption serves to highlight the extent of match-fixing and the damaging effect it has on the industry.

“The intention is to publish the report annually in order to raise awareness of the latest and most extensive data and trends. The company used its UFDS to monitor more than 500,000 sports matches in 2021 and to provide an in-depth analysis of the match-fixing landscape.

“As a large representative sample size, it can be taken as a strong indication of the true rate of match-fixing globally.”

Krannich added that Sportradar had made the UFDS available free of charge to all sports globally since October 2021 in an effort to ensure clean sport and to support all sports at all levels with their integrity measures and the system is now used by more than 120 sports organisations globally.

Current partners include large international federations such as FIFA, UEFA, ITF, and ICC through to smaller organisations representing an individual sport in a single country.

The Saturday Star

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