WARNING: Experts estimate that the number of matches fixed annually could be anywhere between 300 and 700. The cases presented here are by no means comprehensive.
These cases are meant as a representational overview for each continent, showing facts or suspicions of foul play related to betting in sport.
The New York Times revealed that, according to FIFA, between 5 and 15 preparation matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa had been fixed. This included Nigeria v Argentina and South Africa v Guatemala, won 5-0 by the host nation, in which the referee had $100,000 deposited into an account.
The South African captain, Hansie Cronje, received money from an illegal Indian gambling syndicate in order to bribe his teammates to throw several national team games. This case led the International Cricket Federation (ICC) to create the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) which has been given substantial investigative powers.
Tan Seet Eng (also known by the english name Dan Tan) is a Singaporean suspected of being the boss of an Asian mafia network, which is known to have fixed dozens of football matches in Italy (Calcioscommesse).
Known as the tycoon of organized crime in the region, Tan relies on illegal betting platforms hosted in Taiwan, China and Malaysia. He has been known to organize ghost matches such as a match between Bahrain and Togo, presented as an official match, but featuring a Togolese team composed of amateur players. He has also fixed numerous other matches.
In order to achieve this, Tan relies on a very sophisticated network with many intermediaries. Many are from Eastern Europe and the Balkans or even from Italy from his direct link to the Camorra. Their roles are clearly defined: to do "market research" that will define the amount of bribes, money delivered, etc.
In December 2013, the Singaporean police announced the arrest of fourteen people suspected of being part of this mafia organization. Dan Tan, already being prosecuted for having fixed dozens of matches throughout European, was among those arrested.
A Singaporean businessman, Eric Ding, was sentenced in July 2014 to three years in prison for bribing three Lebanese referees to fix the outcome of football matches in exchange for the services of prostitutes.
"The ultimate goal was to encourage referees to purposefully make wrong decisions on the field which benefited match-fixing organizers," said the presiding judge in Singapore, stressing that such acts tarnish the reputation of Singapore, a place quickly becoming known for match-fixing.
Three Lebanese referees were arrested in April 2013 before arriving at the stadium to officiate an Asian Confederations Cup match between Singaporean club, Tampines Rovers and Indian club, East Bengal. The referee was sentenced six months in prison, while the two assistants were sentenced to three.
Nikolay Davydenko is believed to have deliberately lost a match at the Sopot tournament in Poland, on which unusually high sums of money were bet. This led to Betfair exceptionally voiding all wagers (around €7 million) placed on the match. These suspicions have never been confirmed, although several tennis players have admitted to being approached to throw games. After this controversy the International Tennis Federation started the "Tennis Integrity Unit" which has substantial investigative and sanctioning powers.
Three Pakistani cricketers and their agent were sentenced to prison in November 2011 by a London court for match-fixing. The scandal was uncovered by the News of the World newspaper who used a hidden camera to videotape the players.
The players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were sentenced to two and a half years, one year and six months in prison for "conspiracy for personal gains" and "deceit" by the court. Their agent, Mazhar Majeed, was the most heavily sanctioned, receiving two years and eight months in prison.
The court considered their crime all the more serious as they were considered as heroes in their home country, where cricket is extremely popular. All three were accused of deliberately bowling no balls for money during an international match between England and Pakistan in August 2010 in London in order to illegally give an unfair advantage to gamblers.
In February 2013, the Chinese Football Association issued a lifetime ban to thirty three people plus a range of sanctions including hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to clubs in the biggest match-fixing scandal to have ever hit the country.
The federation gave life bans to former presidents Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, already imprisoned for having accepted bribes, and Dalian Aerbin, president of the Eastern Chinese club Xu Hong.
In addition to this, two clubs involved in the 2003 match-fixing scandal, Tianjin Teda and Shanghai Shenhua, were handed fines of $160,000 (around €120,000) each and had points deducted for the 2014 season. Shenhua, the club which has just seen the exit of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, was also stripped of its title won in 2003.
Primo Carnera, an Italian boxer who was world heavyweight champion in 1933, fixed many fights during the 30s on orders from the Mafia.
It was discovered in 1980 that players from Italian teams, including AC Milan and Lazio, had regularly been gambling and deliberately losing matches in order to supplement their earnings. Following this discovery, many players were either suspended or imprisoned, including Paulo Rossi (Italian international striker, World Cup Golden Boot and Ballon d'Or winner 1982), who was given a two-year suspension for fixing the outcome of a match.
"Calcioscommesse" translates as "Betting on football" and is the name given by the Italian press to describe a major match-fixing scandal that has rocked Italian football’s professional leagues over the last decade.
Since 2010, investigators have been going through over 100,000 tapped telephone conversations, which have revealed evidence of large-scale match-fixing in connection with sports betting organized by Singaporean Mafioso, Dan Tan. Evidence has come to light of over 30 Serie A and dozens of Serie B and LegaPro (3rd division) matches being fixed.
More than 100 people have been arrested or questioned since the beginning of the investigation, including club managers, agents, mafia members, players, and coaches. Giuseppe Signori, former Italian international, suspected of be part of the Bologna mafia, is also involved in the case.
Players Cristiano Doni, Stefano Mauri (former captain of Lazio) Domenico Criscito and Leonardo Bonucci, who were selected for Italy in Euro 2012, and the current Chelsea and former Italy and Juventus coach, Antonio Conte, are all suspected of having been involved.
They have already been sanctioned by the Italian disciplinary sporting bodies. Some, like Antonio Conte, Stefano Mauri, Cristiano Doni and Giuseppe Signori were dismissed, along with 130 other people in February 2015, the Prosecutor of Cremona for sporting fraud facts and associations criminal conspiracy. The trial should be held during the 2015/2016 season.
The investigation revealed that a mafia group from Singapore, lead by Dan Tan, was at the heart of the case. The scam worked as follows: several players and sometimes the coach were bribed to influence the outcome of a match, while criminal networks bet heavily on Asian betting sites.
Investigators reported that the "price" of corruption was on average: €400.000 per Serie A match, €120,000 per Serie B match and € 60,000 per Lega Pro match. A Serie A match between Lecce and Lazio Rome would typically cost around € 600,000 in order to bribe players and coaches. Mafia networks would have earned around € 2 million. More news to follow...
In early 2005, German referee Robert Hoyzer was suspected of betting on the outcome of a game he was in charge of in the first round of the German cup. The match was marred by several very questionable decisions.
Mr. Hoyzer resigned from his position as the German Football Association and the German courts opened an investigation to look into whether he had fixed the outcome of other matches or not.
It became clear that the referee had been in contact with the Croatian mafia, led by Ante Sapina (see the case of Bochum), and that this criminal organization had placed several large bets on matches officiated by Mr. Hoyzer.
Mr. Hoyzer revealed to investigators that other referees and some players had also been corrupted by the Mafia. In February 2005, the German courts announced the arrest of 19 suspects and the discovery of crucial evidence that implicated 25 people including 14 players and 3 referees. Mr. Hoyzer agreed to actively cooperate with the investigation by providing valuable information to investigators.
He was banned for life from any role related to the arbitration of football in Germany. Because of his active cooperation in the investigation, he was only sentenced to 2 years and 5 months in prison. The alleged leader of the mafia network, Ante Sapina was sentenced to 2 years and 11 months in prison.
This is the largest case of match-fixing ever discovered in relation to sports betting: over 300 games organized in several countries (Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Belgium) were found to have been fixed in all levels of competition (national championships, lower divisions, youth leagues, friendly matches and international competitions such as the Europa League and the Champions League).
The brains behind this case was German mafia boss of Croatian descent, Ante Sapina, who was sentenced in May 2011, along with four of his accomplices, to 5 and a half years in prison. This sentence was added to that given for his involvement in the Hoyzer case.
Match-fixing evidence was found by chance in late 2008 while German police were investigating a drug and prostitution ring in Bochum. They found that this criminal organization had set up an additional network of sports corruption as a way of laundering illegal earnings through online sports betting.
According to the detailed evidence provided by the Bochum prosecutor, the network was perfectly set up to handle a large number of games: people were tasked with identifying target games, with others providing money to bribe players and officials with yet more people placing bets and collecting the illegal winnings.
Those who targeted players chose those more vulnerable than others (debt, out of contract, young, etc) choosing one or more players within one or even two teams as well as one or more match officials. They also staged friendly matches in order to improve odds.
Once an approach had been made, they would classify meetings from 1 to 5 depending on how certain they were that the player would comply with their wishes. This then determined how much money was placed on sports betting sites.
A total of €12 million was spent on bribing players and referees. Ante Sapina alleged that he spent an average of €1 million per month during this period and fixed around 1 match per week. Tens of millions were bet on the matches, suggesting that the returns were very significant.
Zheyun Ye, Chinese businessman, was behind a huge case of corruption and match-fixing in the Belgian 1st division between November 2004 and October 2005, from which he acquired a significant amount of money from the sports betting market.
At the start of the 2004/05 season Ye expressed his interest in buying into Sint-Truiden FC. He was later shown around by to the management and then had an offer accepted by the club. He then attempted to do the same thing with 10 other professional Belgian clubs. Some of them, facing financial difficulties, welcomed to his interest, such as Lierse, La Louviere and Mons.
Having gained control of the club, Mr. Ye, who had ties with the Belgian branch of Italian mafia group Cosa Nostra, had a direct influence on decisions within the club (team composition, line-up of the reserve team, etc). He also managed to corrupt several players and coaches (Paul Put at Lierse) in order to influence or manipulate the result of certain matches. Then, Mr. Ye used intimidation and blackmail tactics to force others to do as he wished.
In total nineteen matches were fixed, eighteen of which from division 1 with some seeing two clubs owned by Mr. Ye facing each other, making fixing the matches easier (e.g. St Truiden v La Louvière, October 29, 2005 ). Approximately twenty players (mostly from Lierse, including Cliff Mardulier) and coaches received sums of money ranging from €7,000 to almost €150,000.
Simultaneously, huge sums were placed on Asian sports betting sites (in particular Live Betting thanks to Chinese students watching from the stands who would call a contact in Asia with any change in score even before the relevant websites had uploaded the score change) and on the betting exchange site, Betfair.
Incidentally, it was Betfair, who noticed abnormally high betting traffic on St Truiden v La Louviere and Cercle Brugge v St Truiden matches during the 2005/06 season. They then alerted the Belgian authorities. Mr. Ye immediately fled.
In 2014, the Brussels criminal court sentenced Zheyun Ye to five years in prison and Paul Put, former Lierse coach and then coach of Burkina Faso, to two years in prison. The former goalkeeper of Lierse, Cliff Mardulier was given a suspended sentence for accepting bribes.
On 7th and 8th December 2013, British police arrested six people in connection with match-fixing in the English second division including Blackburn striker DJ Campbell, who had played for in three Premier League clubs during his career.
In April 2015, three Norwegian 3rd Division players were sentenced to 6 to 8 months in prison by a court in Oslo for having thrown a match for money on at least two occasions. It was these players’ own club which alerted the authorities after a suspicious 4-3 defeat after, at one point, being 3-0 up. Wiretaps showed that these players had made a deal with Swedish gamblers.
After being convinced by Essex teammate Danish Kaneria, Mervyn Westfield was given a sum of money to purposefully bowl badly in a game of Cricket. This act saw him convicted and suspended from the game ending his career and his dream of playing for the English national team.
In 1919, several players from the Chicago White Sox intentionally lost the final of the Baseball championship after receiving money from a bookmaker. Eight players were banned for life. As a result of this, the team was nicknamed the "Black Sox".
In 2008, Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee was banned and sentenced to 15 months in prison for having influenced numerous match results.
From prison, he told how he came to fix matches in exchange for money from the mafia: After betting on NBA games with a friend, who then relayed the information to people close to the mafia, Donaghy was abducted by henchmen before a match from a hotel in Philadelphia. First, he was asked to reveal his predictions on the outcome of certain games, and later forced to ensure that results were consistent with his predictions.
The mafia informed him that if he refused to cooperate, they would not hesitate to harm his wife and children. Donaghy was given $2,000 for each correct ‘prediction’, while according to the FBI, the Mafia would have made millions of dollars on the illegal betting market.
In May 2014, the now "famous" match-fixer of Singapore, Wilson Raj Perumal, is said to have won thousands of dollars by fixing football matches in Australia. He allegedly paid Togolese players to get red cards during a match against Australia in 2008. In 2010 he reportedly used an intermediary to bribe the referee of a match between Australia and Egypt.
Heath Shaw, A player at Collingwood FC, admitted that he bet $10 on his teammate and captain Nick Maxwell to be first scorer in a match knowing that the coach had decided to play him upfront early on in the game. Nick Maxwell also told this to his relatives, who then, without his knowledge, placed bets of their own using this information.
Heath Shaw was given an eight week suspension by the Australian Football League (AFL) for breaking the AFL’s regulations on betting, especially on a match that he was participating in. Nick Maxwell was fined $5000 for ignoring the rule which forbids players from disclosing information to the public. The AFL said that it wanted to take exemplary sanctions to preserve the integrity of its competitions.
International rugby league player Ryan Tandy was banned for life by the National Rugby League and sentenced to prison for having purposefully committed two fouls giving away two penalties during the North Queensland Bulldogs v Canterbury Cowboys match on 21st August 2010.
The investigation showed that he would have received $113,000 if the Cowboys hadn't decided to play one of the penalties in hand. Tandy had gambling debts of $75,000.
In February 2015, Paolo Suárez (brother of Luis Suárez from Barcelona FC) who plays for the Guatemalan club, Comunicaciones, was embroiled in a match-fixing case, according to a Chilean newspaper.
Two cases have been looked at by investigators, but for the moment neither has resulted in a prosecution. In 2012, Paolo Suárez, who played for Isidro Metapán at the time, would have earned nearly €15 000 for throwing a match which was lost lost 8-0. In addition to this, Suárez’s former teammate and roommate alleged that he had refused an approach by Suarez who offered €20,000 in exchange for playing badly against the Seattle Sounders.