Another day, another dollar the saying goes. Or a lot of dollars. If you are one of the 425 reported match officials, club officials, players, or criminal according to Europol who accepted bribes or placed bets to fix a football match, then a lot of money has been coming your way.
According to Europol, over 10 million euros (~$13.6 million) have already been uncovered, and according to German investigator Friedhelm Althans, “this is the tip of the iceberg.”
The Italian soccer leagues have already had to go through two ugly, match-fixing scandals since the turn of the 21st century. Now, it appears the whole world is going to go through it as well.
380 European matches are being reviewed, with another 300 matches in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America being reviewed as well.
In all, this is going to be an ugly black mark on the world’s most popular sport. Already heralded as having issues adapting to technology, the soccer world will have a huge image problem.
In the United States, where soccer sits behind popular sports like the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, this news will have little impact in the mainstream media. However, this news is worse than the New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal.
Match-fixing is not immune to American sports, however, as one just needs to remember the Chicago Black Sox of 1919, where eight members were accused, and convicted, of accepting bribes to throw the World Series.
Back in the football realm, this is not just second and third tier leagues being impacted.
Two Champions League matches are being reviewed, as well as three World Cup qualification matches.
The greatest threat to the game is those who already know the outcome before a game even starts. It ruins the whole idea of tradition, integrity, and everything else a sport stands for. It strikes at the very core of sports itself.
How can a parent tell their kid to give it their all, to win and lose with character, to play the game with integrity, the right way, to do their very best when the integrity of the game has gone away?
It is a disgrace to the culture created by the world we live in, but that’s another topic for another post on a different day.
Very soon, FIFA is going to have a very big, ugly black hole staring at it. Public relations personnel will be making their money as they will continuously have to fight to prove the matches we watch are played fairly, denying allegations and claims of such heinous acts.
But in the end, there is always going to be that thought in the back of the mind. That itself could cause irreparable harm to the eyes of the world.