One time convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal told FIFA that a fix will often start with one player who is offered money to throw a game.
If players are happy to play ball, the match fixer will then use the target to sound out other members of the team.
Recent life time bans on Hellings Mwakasungula and eight others for match fixing scandal are once again throwing the spotlight onto how serious match-fixing in football is.
Coercing players, officials and administrators into rigging matches has netted fixers millions of dollars while football is left counting the cost of it’s integrity.
The problem is now global. Be it in Africa, Europe, Asia, North America and South America, betting companies have invaded the beautiful game and they are showing no signs of remorse.
In 2013, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol announced that 680 matches (380 of them in Europe) played between 2008 and 2011 were under suspicion of being rigged.
“This is the work of a suspected organized crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe,” Rob Wainwright, director of Europol told CNN.
Europol did not mention specific matches but fixtures include World Cup qualifiers, Champions League ties and many more.
Now, on Wednesday, FIFA banned Mwakasungula together with eight others after they were found guilty of fixing matches.
The former Flames midfielder, who was very key to Malawi’s 2010 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Angola, was paid US$1000 (about K750 000) by a Cuban betting agent Leonel Duarte from as far as 2008 to influence Flames’ results in Angola.
Malawi started the campaign on a very high note by beating favorites Algeria 3-0. This result completely changed the expectations of betting companies who had innitally placed their money against Malawi and the result forced them to think twice as the team looked certain for a place in the quarter finals.
According to investigators, much of the problem stems from illegal gambling markets in Asia, which are said to turn over billions of dollars every single day.
“Football is by far the largest betting market in the world and by far the most liquid,” Joe Saumarez Smith, a sports betting consultant was quoted by the British Media.
According to Saumarez Smith, football fixers target players because they are not very well paid.
“A lot of players are not very well paid and, particularly in the African leagues, they don’t get paid so match fixing becomes more attractive,” he said.
Four years ago, the world of football was rocked by match fixing scandal by match fixer Perumal, who was convicted and now works with FIFA as a witness to expose all match fixers.
Perumal said he used to fix matches with just a single player.
“I have fixed matches with just a single player. But of course, you would like to have the goalkeeper, we would like to have the defenders then the striker,” he told CNN.
It is believed that using a group of players to fix a match is advantageous to the fixer because it improves the chances of getting the desired result.
It’s also more difficult to spot says Declan Hill;
“You have six players running around trying as hard as they can and you have five players pretending to run around trying as hard as they can. This way, the outsider finds it extraordinary difficult to figure out what is going on. All they see are 11 players who may or may not be making mistakes,” he was quoted by CNN.
The latest revelation by FIFA is just a tip on iceberg especially our local football.
We have been hearing of possible match fixing scandals when the league is approaching its end, we have been hearing of match fixing scandals in our regional leagues where a champion would accumulate more than 90 points but fail to collect more than 30 points when playing in the top flight football.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) need to investigate the performances of the national team players and the conduct of officials before and after international matches.
Mwakasungula has been convicted today but there is more illegal activities happening in the game and it is very doubtful if he is the only player to have been involved in this scandal in Angola.