In the wake of match-fixing charges regarding European soccer earlier this summer, revelations of similar criminal involvement in Australian soccer are the continuation of a pattern. Six people connected to the Victorian Premier League were charged this weekend for conspiring with criminal gangs in Asia to influence the outcome of soccer games.
Declan Hill, a Canadian investigative reporter who is one of the world’s most well-informed experts on corrupt match-fixing, is less than surprised about the revelations. Europol, the anti-corruption task force, revealed shocking match-fixing scams connected to the World Cup in February. Since the European revelations, Hill believes illegal sportsbetting scams connected to organized crime are poisoning the integrity of sports leagues around the world.
The Australian example involves the Southern Stars, one of the newest clubs promoted to the Victorian Premier League. Allegations suggest at least four matches involving the soccer club were likely fixed through illegal betting. Investigators say they found at least $2 million won by an illegal criminal element in Singapore, which was exposed during the Europol investigation by convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.
Hill believes criminal gangs help import players to leagues all over the world, who are bribed to win the game or throw the match depending on what is in the best interests of the gangs. Hill says the corruption is not limited to Europe or Australia, identifying the Canadian Soccer League as another victim of illicit criminal wagering.
“We’ve got a league over here in Canada called the Canadian Soccer League which is not even our first, second, or even third division. And they fixed a match a number of years ago.”
As more criminal wagering cases are exposed, governments may be inclined to impose a tough, but legal sportsbetting regulatory system. A strong government-backed system in countries such as Canada will reduce the likelihood that matches will be fixed by criminal associations.