PtG Article 21.10.2015

Play the Game 2015: Workshops: The real world of match-fixing

Get behind the usual match-fixing debate, when Play the Game 2015 invites you to join a three-session workshop headed by Declan Hill.

The three match-fixing workshops mark the 10 year anniversary for when Canadian match-fixing expert, Decaln Hill, at Play the Game 2005, first warned that European sport would be hit by a 'wave of Asian style match-fixing'. In spite of the many years gone by since then, there is still a lack of research in the area, says Declan Hill.  "It is impossible to win a war unless you have accurate data," Declan Hill says and therefore he has prepared three workshops designed to give researchers the necessary information. Anybody interested in playing a part in the fight against match-fixing can take part.

Read Declan Hill's own introduction to the match-fixing workshops, which will be a part of Play the Game 2015:

The real world of match-fixing I-III

It was a dramatic and surprising announcement. 

Ten years ago at the Play the Game conference in Copenhagen, I announced that European sport would be hit with a wave of Asian-style match-fixing.  It was the first time that anyone had publicly made the claim.

Sadly, in the ten years since that conference the prediction has been proven true. Now there have been over-twenty national police investigations into systemic corruption in European sport: hundreds of players, referees and officials have been convicted. Almost every level of European football has been corrupted from relatively minor games to international matches and the Champions League.

However, the research into modern-day match-fixing is still relatively rudimentary. 

Part of the fault is that the usual scenario at conferences prevents any serious discussion of match-fixing.   At these events a group of purported experts trots up on stage to speak about match-fixing.  Each is given roughly fifteen minutes to speak.   Even when the speaker is very good it is difficult to say anything substantive in that time frame.  If a speaker does manage to say something intelligent it often gets washed out in a sea of platitudes.

Thus most conference sessions on match-fixing get stuck at the cliché level:  speaker after speaker says things like - “match-fixing is bad” or “we must all fight hard to prevent match-fixing” or even (Goodness help us!) “All international stakeholders should cooperate together in a multi-paradigm approach to bring about a truly global solution to this on-going problem…”

This dire situation occurs when the speakers are good.  However, many of the ‘experts’ in the field are actually driven by other commercial agendas.  While they may be people who are genuinely concerned by match-fixing, their chief purpose is something else like raising funds for their academic research, enjoying a globe-trotting lifestyle, keeping government oversight out of their sports or making sure that their particular gambling company is either licensed and taxed by a European government or better yet, licensed and untaxed by a European government.

At this year’s Play the Game conference for the 10-year anniversary of the announcement of the threat of modern-day match-fixing, the organizers have allowed me to present a series of lectures away from the main conference format where I can show robust, peer-reviewed research into match-fixing in a proper, systematic form.

The lectures are aimed specifically at academics, journalists and anyone interested in playing a part in the fight against match-fixing. It is impossible to win a war unless you have accurate data.   These lectures are designed to give researchers the necessary information.