THIS YEAR’S Play the Game award 2009 was won by investigative journalist and author of the book “The Fix” Declan Hill. CU Today spoke to Declan in an exclusive interview to find out what made him tick and why he chose a life in corruption, writes Victoria Howe.
For his PhD, Hill studied match fixing and the illegal gambling trade that is corrupting today’s football-mad world – an unusual topic for an academic study.
“I had worked as a young journalist on a documentary with my colleagues at CBC broadcasting cooperation on the influence and impact of the Russian Mafia on the national hockey league, and the really got me intrigued about the idea of organised crime in sport,” he said.
With a background in hard-hitting news and a wealth of opportunities thanks to Oxford University to raise awareness of the issue, “The Fix” was born. Hill went directly to a former mob-boss to scratch the surface of corruption in sport.
“The first person I had spoken to was Michael Franzese. I was working on a Russian Mafia piece and the questions that I asked him, kind of opened my mind to the ideas of fixing,” said Hill.
During research in Asia he came across many dangerous people. He said: “I don’t remember anyone in Asia, with the exception of the fixers, not telling me that what I was doing was dangerous”. Many of the people that Hill spoke to were not prepared to talk, though football players were willing to speak out on the corruption in the game.
“Many of the players were desperate to speak, they really want to talk about it, they don’t like corruption in the game”
Hill wants to set up a world anti-corruption agency. By using Play the Game as a platform for networking and WADA as a guideline he wants to tackle the damaging issues in sport. Hill wants to set up an independent agency that he hopes sport organisations will take note of and start to tackle corruption in the world of sport.