PtG Article 21.11.2009

Declan Hill: I told you so

"I told you so", Declan Hill says in a press statement on the large probe into match-fixing leading to 17 arrests and confiscation of documents, cash and valuables after 50 raids in three European countries.

What UEFA calls the worst ever match fixing scandal has so far led to 17 arrests and confiscation of documents, cash and valuables after 50 raids in Germany Switzerland and Britain.

Following the raids, authorities now believe to have arrested the leaders of a match fixing syndicate thought to have made 10 million euros fixing 200 matches across nine European countries.

"Without doubt this is the biggest scam there has ever been in European football," UEFA's match-fixing specialist Peter Limacher said in Germany, where the investigations were organised in cooperation with UEFA.

"We are deeply shocked by the scale of match-fixing through international gangs. We now have to do everything possible to ensure that referees, players and officials implicated face justice," Limacher said according to AFP.

"I told you so"

Declan Hill, author of the book "The Fix" published last year is not so shocked. His book presented evidence that some of the highest soccer matches in the world may have been fixed: European Champions League, Olympic and World Cup tournaments. The book also documented how gambling fixers have successfully infiltrated the game, all the way to the top international matches.

"I told you so," Hill says in a press statement and expresses joy that authorities are now taking action against organised gambling.

"This is superb news. Finally, a proper, well-resourced investigation into corruption in match-fixing in European football. The UEFA investigation unit was started, partly, because of the book. Certainly, I was flown to Geneva to speak to officials about the structure of the organization. Now, I am very pleased to see that it has produced such strong results. Great, great news," Hill says."I have two hopes for the outcome of the investigation," he continues,"1) There have been a number of other investigations into match-fixing that have started with lots of publicity, strong calls of a major clean-up and multiple arrests: Portugal – the da Costa case, Germany – the Hoyzer case, France – the Tapie case. Then the authorities find one person, dump all the cases onto them and construct ‘conspiracies of one’ rather than uprooting the essential corrupt structure within the game. Journalists and fans should stay on top of this case, to ensure that this does not happen again.2) When the convictions happen, the authorities should make sure that the penalties are the harshest possible. There should be a clear signal sent out to the players, referees and officials that this will not be tolerated in the sport that we love."

The tip of the iceberg

According to the authorities' statements on the future of the investigation, both of Hill's hopes seem to have been considered.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino stated that "UEFA will be demanding the harshest of sanctions before the competent courts for any individuals, clubs or officials who are implicated in this malpractice, be it under state or sports jurisdiction." And the investigation prosecutor Andreas Bachmann seems to agree that the case is not yet done.

"But this is just the tip of the iceberg," he said to AFP.