Monday, 25 January 2010

Chinese match-fixing story

The story out of China about match-fixing and corruption in sport, as reported in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago but for some reason only picked up by PA Sport today, seems to me a classic example of two points that I have made repeatedly (boringly, even!) over the years.

I've written about match-fixing before here, and talked about it at great length in the past, so I will just reiterate the two main points which are underlined by this story.

First, the only people who can corrupt sport are people who are involved in it. There is no way I can fix the result of any match without the collusion of a player, team, coach, or official involved. I accept that I may become the corrupting force behind a fixed match, but ultimately I cannot fix it without the collaboration of someone or some group directly involved in the event - someone, that is, who falls under the jurisdiction of the governing body of a given sport. Education of participants in sport is therefore a key ingredient to rooting out corruption.

Second, the threat to sport comes not from the legal, regulated market, but the illegal market. If all betting were transparent and all funds could be tracked, then it would be easy to establish who was coercing the players, and who was making money.

Sadly, neither of these points is yet publicly accepted by governments or by sporting bodies. this is because accepting them makes it harder to argue for monopoly operators or sports levies from regulated betting companies.

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