With so much legal and illegal betting, corruption and match-fixing taking place in the world of soccer, it’s no wonder that FIFA is concerned about the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Ralf Mutschke, the security chief for the world governing body, feels the biggest threat of match-fixing at this summer’s tournament will be in the last round of the group contests.
The tournament kicks off on June 12 and winds up on July 13 with the final group games beginning on June 23. Mutschke said those games have the greatest chance of attracting criminal groups since some of the 32 participating nations will already be eliminated from the event by then. He feels players on those teams will be more susceptible to bribes.
While many players involved in the world’s largest sporting event are multimillionaires, many players in some of the poorer countries just manage to get by on their wages. Mutschke stated to Brazilian TV, “We have a broad variety of different measures to look at the betting market, to make a risk assessment of each single game. The final is probably not at risk. The group stage is a different situation for some of the teams.”
The anti-corruption expert said FIFA assesses each game and focuses on the ones which appear to be at a higher risk for match-fixing. The World Cup itself generates approximately $5 billion and typically attracts then most viewers of any sporting event. The 2010 final game between Spain and Holland pulled in an average television audience of 530.9 million.
Mutschke claimed that it’s harder for criminal syndicates to fix high-profile contests such as the World Cup, but FIFA won’t be taking any chances since 90 per cent of the organization’s income reportedly comes through the event. The 54-year-old Mutschke, who spent 33 years working security with Interpol and the German police, went on to say that he believes the World Cup will be free of match-fixing, but there’s a lot of work to do to make sure it is.
The FIFPro player union studied soccer clubs in Eastern Europe in 2012 and interviewed 3,357 players. The organization found that 12 per cent of them had been approached by criminal groups to manipulate game results. Also, FIFPro found that 55 per cent of the players interviewed claimed they hadn’t been paid their salaries on time by their employers.
Mutschke remarked that the criminal syndicates have access to so much money that some of them can afford to offer bribes of up to $1 million. Last year European police they uncovered a match-fixing gang in Singapore which attempted to rig up to 680 games across the globe from 2008 to 2011 and charged a man named Dan Tan, who was described as being the mastermind of the criminal syndicate.
FIFA is now worried that the bribes could be raised to as much as $10 million and is concerned at how many players and officials could be tempted by such an amount. Mutschke claimed that no World Cup encounters were fixed in South Africa in 2010, but admitted that some pre-tournament friendlies could have been rigged. FIFA suspects South Africa could have been approached to fix games since they beat Colombia 2-1 and Guatemala 5-0 in warm up matches and three penalty kicks were awarded in each contest.