ACCLAIMED JOURNALIST and author Declan Hill spoke of “the two greatest scandals in sports today” to an appreciative audience at Play the Game writes James Bourne.
In his presentation, entitled “Match-fixers: They are here. What are we going to do now?” Hill said that the two scandals were the fixing of matches themselves, and the reaction to the problem by FIFA, football’s governing body.
Hill provided numerous examples – mainly from his bestselling book, The Fix – of attempted fixing of matches by various groups. Hill’s research, of over half a million words of transcripts, included games ranging from Europe to Asia and competitions as prestigious as the African Cup of Nations and the women’s World Cup.
Describing the second scandal, Hill was highly critical with the response of FIFA, saying: “The reaction of FIFA has been to say ‘yes, these fixers are here… but they have never succeeded.’”
Hill also touched upon potential solutions to the match-fixing problem, and inferred that widespread structural change had to be implemented in order to control the issue.
In his five points for change, Hill stressed the need for FIFA to implement an established security department, as well as effective conduct of known match fixing cases. In addition, he also spoke of a greater need for female referees – to nullify a threat of sexual bribery – as well as setting up a credible anti-corruption hotline, and training players about the real dangers of corruption.
Paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw at the end of his presentation, Hill remarked that “European football has gone from denial to resignation without passing through combat.”