Disgraced players, disillusioned fans, and a loss of credibility: How should we to react to another sports scandal?
We are just getting over Lance Armstrong’s confession, and now we are faced with the exposure of football match-fixing of an unprecedented scope.
The facts themselves don’t bear much weight. Allegedly there are 425 officials, players, and criminals in on the scandal. Some £7 million made in Germany alone, and a rough total of 680 matches fixed. (via BBC)
These numbers don't convey the deeper implications of match-fixing, which are more serious than we may realize at the moment. It has been revealed that a Champions League match within the past few years was fixed (via New York Times). The fact that the Champions League has been infiltrated demonstrates the remarkable scope of this far-reaching scandal.
There is a tendency to disregard that which does not affect us. Match-fixing has been a problem in Asian countries, especially, for decades. Many people are aware that Asian leagues are rife with fixed matches. But since their results are not important because their leagues are not considered the best in the world, there has not been substantial coverage or effort to stop it.
Now that match-fixing is affecting what is widely considered the most prestigious tournament in the football world and the top leagues—we care. Why it took so long for this information to come to light is something football fans will demand to know.
Match-fixing hurts players, fans, and the sport. The possibility that players are not giving their all on the pitch, or that a poor back-pass was intentional ruins football’s integrity. Now all matches will be watched by skeptical spectators. Commentators will speculate about careless and uncharacteristic mistakes, as well as bizarre results.
The reports of the match-fixing scandal are clear: Big clubs, rich clubs, top players and huge tournaments are not free from suspicion. Everyone and every club is suspect. Anyone who watched Chelsea vs. Newcastle or Granada vs. Real Madrid this weekend must be seriously considering the match-fixing claims. Prepare for false allegations and true, but no less disheartening, exposures in the beautiful game.