The global fight against illegal sports betting and match-fixing is a herculean task.
According to the World Lottery Association, an organization of state-authorized lotteries, nearly $120 billion is spent each year in legitimate wagers on football games. The same group estimates that another €90 billion is spent in illegitimate football betting. Interpol, the international police organization, estimates have put the figure much, much higher. According to IOC President Jacques Rogge “Illegal betting in sport generates a turnover of around $140 billion a year”.
These numbers make FIFA’s pledge of $20m to create a unit within Interpol dedicated to rooting out match-fixing – quite ridiculous. How can you fight a €90 billion industry with $20m? It’s like shooting a tank with a gun – Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan style.
However, match fixing is not just football’s problem. It is funding many of the crime organizations all over the world. The money made in illegitimate football betting subsidizes human trafficking, illegal drug traffic, corruption and assassinations.
Governments all over the world should take the football match industry very seriously but FIFA and Uefa are failing to make them realize the seriousness of the problem.
There are many ways of fighting match fixing – as can be seen here: How to fix the match fixing problem
However, those things aren’t going to happen mostly because of political reasons.
FIFA should actually be on the front of the fight against match fixing but that’s a problem when FIFA itself is a rotten political body, which some of its most important administrators were found guilty of corruption.
Match fixing is a phenomenon that will continue to grow and “kill football” as Michel Platini said, as long as FIFA, in its current state, will continue to control football.