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Match fixing tarnishes the beautiful game

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 02:38

Feb. 19 - The betting intelligence company Sportradar, which works with UEFA, has detected that up to one percent of soccer matches in Europe could be fixed. It also says illegal gambling could spread into other sports - as technology encourages live betting - with potentially costly consequences. Hayley Platt reports.

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David Beckham's made millions from soccer. But the beautiful game that propelled Paris Saint-Germain's new star signing to the top of his profession could be turning ugly. Earlier this month investigators exposed a global match fixing scam run from Singapore. Now betting intelligence firm Sportradar says up to 1% of matches in Europe could be fixed. It's been using fraud detection technology to flag unusual betting behaviour during live matches. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPORTRADAR INTEGRITY MANAGER BEN PATERSON, POINTING AT SCREEN, EXPLAINING SPORTRADAR FRAUD DETECTION SYSTEM, SAYING: "The yellow line shows where we expect the odds to be and the red line shows where the actual odds with the bookmakers were. Now to begin with, they are jumping around a little bit but they are not too suspicious but after about 20 minutes we see that the odds nosedive really. This is a key indicator perhaps someone knows how many goals are going to be (scored) in this game." Ben Paterson is Sportrader's Integrity Manager. He's at the front line of the war against corruption in sport, tracking tennis, handball and 30,000 soccer matches for the European Football Authority UEFA. Technology has made online betting during live matches increasingly popular - and soccer not horse racing is now the bookmakers staple business. Paterson says the global sports betting industry is now worth 1 trillion dollars a year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPORTRADAR INTEGRITY MANAGER BEN PATERSON SAYING: "I think this figure is reasonably accurate primarily because of the sheer scope of bets that we see in the Asia markets. It is unfathomable and most of these Asian bookmakers, they don't disclose their accounts, they are not required to, so we don't actually see exactly how much money they are taking in bets. So, as far as how much of this money is suspicious money, maybe a small percentage but even a small percentage is in the billions." Soccer is played on every continent - and the UK's Premier League is the most well known. Faith in the multi-billion dollar industry underpinned by big company sponsors and pay tv deals has, says football finance expert Sue Bridgewater, been badly shaken by the scandal SOUNDBITE: Dr Sue Bridgewater, Warwick University Business School, saying (English): "It is obviously very significant because if you challenge the sporting integrity, the integrity of the contest and you maybe start suggesting that there's something in the sport which is not fair and above board then you damage the whole sport." That's something professional cycling has seen since Lance Armstrong's doping confession. It's feared if the authorities can't kick out the match fixers - soccer may not be such a sure financial bet for investors.

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Match fixing tarnishes the beautiful game

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 02:38