Observing illegal global betting markets virtually extinguish the structure of certain sports from the inside, as players are tempted into fixing certain outcomes, certainly does not sit comfortably with sports enthusiasts across the globe. After all, Sport is one of the most engaging, exhilarating pastimes in the world, in no small part down to its unpredictability and honesty. When accusations are surfaced of players accepting bribes to fix certain facets of matches, whilst gaining personal financial reward, goes against what the essence of Sport represents. In recent years, Cricket has been rife with illegal betting scandals, some players actually facing prison sentences for their respective part in the allegations. Match fixing in football on the continent has also been ubiquitous, not least in Italy where in May of this year, numerous Serie A stars were arrested after accusations of receiving money from betting syndicates.
Somewhat incredibly, the Premier League has sidestepped any stories of match fixing, or illegal betting from players, until now. The popularity of this nation’s domestic league has been uncompromising in its increase, with globalisation of the competition now at its peak. However, with such unwavering, Big Brother style media coverage of proceedings at all 20 clubs that are fortunate enough to compete in the Premiership, any hidden agenda was bound to be uncovered, reported and evaluated.
Former Southampton captain Claus Lundekvam revealed yesterday that he was one of many Premier League players who were involved in illegal betting scams. Speaking to press in his native Norway, he remarked that these match fixing scandals lasted for years. This news will come as a huge blow to all governing bodies associated with the Premier League and English Football. Whilst the domestic game on our shores hardly prides itself on a clean cut image, it has continuously been commended for never entertaining such scandals that have disturbed many other European leagues. However, the announcements today suggest that these match fixing scams had been occurring under the nose of the PFA over a decade ago. Who is to know what subsequent scandals have transpired, especially as the prominence of illegal betting syndicates in other sports have only erupted in recent years.
Regulations will now be incredibly severe as the league attempts to distance itself from these accusations. The positive side of the story for the PFA is the period of time that has passed since the supposed betting scandals occurred. If any other stories surface that are of more recent chronology, then questions will have to be answered as to why, with the PFA so stringent on other aspects of football, had they not acquired knowledge of any incidents of this calibre?
With UEFA acting so heatedly after Jack Wilshere jokingly posted tweets stating that he had put ‘a cheeky tenner’ on an Arsenal player to score last season, one would expect an almighty upheaval by the Premier League bigwigs to delve to the epicentre of this scandal.
While all fans of the Premier League will be saddened to hear news such as this, one couldn’t state that ‘surprised’ is a applicable word to define opinions on the scandal. With such a societally high standing a sport as Cricket becoming so defined by similar allegations in recent years, the negative coverage that Football receives at times was bound to uncover stories such as Lundekvam’s tale of match fixing; stories that are far less financially involved than other illegal betting scandals that have rocked the sporting world. Expect dire repercussions but don’t expect prison sentences.