Another week, another round of match fixing and betting scandals!
It’s amazing that after more than a century of organised, professional sport, there are players that still think they can get away with manipulating the system – whether by choice or coerced by a criminal operation.
But it’s still happening at an alarming rate, and in the past week alone lifetime bans have been issued to footballers and snooker players, while an NFL star will miss around 33% of the 2023 season after he was found to have placed a bet at the wrong place and time.
There’s going to be plenty of heads rolling from an investigation into alleged match fixing in Brazil, where criminal gangs ‘persuaded’ players to get booked, give away penalties or even kick the ball out for corners so that they could profit from their online bets.
One player, Romario (not the legendary striker, but Vila Nova de Goiás midfielder Marcos Vinicius Alves Barreira) has been given a lifetime ban from all Brazilian football for his part in the scandal. The 21-year-old’s teammate, Gabriel Domingos, has been handed a six-year suspension.
It’s thought that, all told, at least 15 players have been involved in fixing 15 games at various levels of Brazilian football, with at least ten people from a criminal betting syndicate hauled in for questioning.
Some 28 bookmakers and betting operations have raised their concerns that they have been duped into paying out on the fraudulent games, while more players are expected to be sanctioned in the weeks ahead.
Two Snooker Major Champions Banned
Two former winners of snooker’s blue riband tournaments have been banned for their part in a match fixing and betting scandal.
The 2021 Masters and UK Championship winners, Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong, have been banned from all snooker until September 2024 at the earliest – pending an unsuccessful appeal, Yan could be forced to sit out until December 2027 for his part in the illegal gambling ring.
Another former UK Championship finalist, Liang Wenbo, and compatriot Li Hang have been banned for life after being identified as the scheme’s ringleaders.
All told, ten Chinese players have been suspended from snooker after it was found that a number of low-key matches on the tour were rigged to benefit clandestine betting groups. Some, including Yan and Zhao, were also found to have wagered on the games themselves.
Some were found to have obstructed the investigation by deleting messages from their phones, while Liang was found to have made threats to the wellbeing of his fellow players and their families if they didn’t conform to their instructions.
The chairman of snooker’s governing body WPBSA, Jason Ferguson, said: “This has been a very complex case. It has been heart-breaking to see some young talented players fall foul of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations through pressure exerted by two senior players.”
A number of the gang’s fellow pros have spoken out, with Aaron Hill – who had no idea that his opponent, Zhao Jinbao, had thrown their Northern Irish Open qualifier in August – stating that the players involved will be ‘disgraced for life’.
A Losing Bet
Jameson Williams is considered to be one of the most exciting young wide receivers in the NFL, but he will miss six of the 17-game 2023 season after he and three former Detroit Lions teammates were found guilty of betting breaches.
The 22-year-old fell foul of a rule he claims he didn’t know existed. Williams wagered on an unspecific sport – not American football – but did so at a Lions facility, which is against NFL policy.
He was unwinding at the franchise’s Allen Park training ground when he struck the bet – oblivious to the violation he had just made. “I don’t even know what the rule is, or when the rule changed or the fine print on what you can or can’t gamble on,” Williams claimed.
The NFL’s rules clearly state that ‘….personnel shall not engage in any form of gambling while in any club or league setting including, without limitation, locker rooms, practice or office facilities, team buses, trains, flights, or hotels, or while traveling on club or league business.’
So Williams only has himself to blame in this case, although it’s not hard to have sympathy for a young man who didn’t even wager on his own sport but will still face a lengthy spell on the sidelines anyway.