Bloomberg News

Growth in Sports Gambling Helps Fuel Match Fixing, FIFA Says

October 13, 2011

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- An “explosion” in the growth of sports gambling is fueling a rise in match fixing, according to the head of security for FIFA, soccer’s governing body.

“FIFA derives no benefit from gambling on football,” said Chris Eaton, who joined the Zurich-based organization from international police group Interpol. “Match fixing has grown because of the explosion of gambling.”

Concerns in the gambling industry about match fixing are growing. Two Pakistani cricket players are on trial in London on charges of conspiring to take bribes to fix plays in a Test match against England last year. The father and uncle of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney were arrested earlier this month as part of a probe into suspicious betting patterns at a Scottish Premier League soccer match.

Worldwide sports betting grew by 66 percent between 2001 and 2011, to about $52.5 billion, as Internet and mobile-phone wagers and live bets during games proliferated, according to Lorien Pilling, head of research at Isle of Man-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultancy.

Police have arrested people in Asia, Europe and Africa for rigging matches. In August, FIFA banned six officials for life after two exhibition games in Turkey in which all seven goals were scored from penalty kicks. In July, a Singaporean, Wilson Raj Perumal, was jailed for two years for bribing players in Finland.

The illegal gambling market may be worth $90 billion, according to the World Lottery Association, a lobbying group for state-backed lotteries.

In May, FIFA pledged 20 million euros ($27.6 million) over 10 years to Interpol to help fight corruption in the sport. FIFA’s revenue was about $1.3 billion in 2010, according to its website.

“Those areas where sports betting is illegal, the market is growing,” said David Henwood, a partner at Manchester-based research firm H2 Gambling Capital. “That would probably increase the temptation for sports figures.”

--Editors: Tim Farrand, Peter Branton

To contact the reporter on this story: David Altaner in London at daltaner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge in London at Ckeatinge@bloomberg.net


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