So what are they actually doing?

This continues to be the best news in football for years. Full congratulations to the German police and UEFA.

However, one question has to be answered: what are the national football associations actually going to do about corruption?

You can see them now, in their press conferences and statements to the press, jostling around trying to escape doing anything about match-corruption. ‘We did not know anything about all this match-fixing going on in our leagues! We are completely surprised! (Really? I did. I even wrote a book about it. Why didn’t you read it?) Nothing we can do,’ they say, ‘We do not want to upset an on-going investigation. This is beyond our expertise. We are football administrators, not policemen.’ Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It is all crap.

They can do something about match-fixing; they should do something about match-fixing and they must do something about match-fixing.

Here are a few suggestions:

1) More integrity units.

Every Football Association in the world should have an integrity unit staffed with honest ex-policemen, gambling experts and football insiders. It is not possible for the unit in UEFA alone to do all the work. Football Associations run national industries worth, in some cases, billions of dollars. It beggars belief that they do not have their own security units. Can you imagine a similar sized Fortune 500 Company not having an internal security unit? No, of course not.

  1. A proper system of reporting corrupt approaches.

Imagine – you are professional football player in some European league. A criminal approaches you to fix a game. What do you do now? Who do you report it to? Especially, as the corruptors are really, really good at this type of approach. They know what to say. And usually, they will say something that isolates a player from the rest of the team, ‘You do know that your coach is on our payroll.’ Or ‘We control your team owner. He gets his cash from us.’ In the best case, these kind of statements are untrue but they put doubt in a player’s mind. In many cases, they are actually true and remind the player that if tells anyone he may face some very serious consequences.

What to do? Establish an independent security unit with a hotline telephone number that every player and coach knows they must call if approached to fix. This is what the Danish Football Association has done.

  1. Pro-active reporting.

This is the rule in professional tennis. If a player is approached by a corruptor they must report the incident. The fixers have to know that every time they approach players they are at risk of being turned in.

There are dozens more ways of prevent more fixing. Watch in the next few weeks to see if the football associations are actually doing anything concrete. Until you see any reforms take place, you will know that all the words of the national associations are exactly that – words – and once this current scandal is over corruption will creep back into the game.

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12 Responses to “So what are they actually doing?”

  1. Mark says:

    Mr. Hill,

    There must be a way for average footie fans to ban together to hold these criminal Associations accountable. Without a loud public backlash I’m afraid these “gentlemen” will continue with business as usual. Notice how Berlusconi, for example, continues to escape justice. When Italians are asked about his misdeeds, they simply shrug their shoulders in resignation.

  2. Declan Hill says:

    Dear Mark,

    Absolutely. My fear as well. I think the football associations will try to play this investigation off as an exception rather than the natural outcome of a system that if only changed slightly would prevent most corruption. So get going! Public pressure is needed. Letters to editors, fan protests, questions in parliament – anything and everything must be done to raise the political pressure on these gentlemen.

    Best wishes,

    Declan

  3. Brandy says:

    Mr. Hill,

    isn’t there a clean way to make a website categorizing all leagues in clean and dirty. So leagues start to worry, when their league becomes too dirty. Giving the clean leagues and clubs a mark for good behaviour?

  4. bert says:

    Declan, I have just finished your book and it has been an eye opening experience. I have never really been a soccer fan but have watched lots of hockey and with the controversy over the players from the montreal canadiens being associated with Russian mafia, is this illness spreading everywhere? Are there safety measures in the NHL, AHL and Junior leagues to prevent this?
    Also the Togo tragedy today has made me ill to think that a game has become so contaminated that it results in death. Is this a political statement or another case of trying to control outcomes?

  5. Declan Hill says:

    Dear Bert and Brandy,

    Thank you for the questions. First, Brandy’s suggestion of ranking the leagues by corruption. There is a ranking for countries by a colleague Johann Lambsdorff at:
    http://www.icgg.org/corruption.cpi_2008.html

    The problem for ranking sports leagues is that it is difficult to measure what we cannot see – that is fixed matches. So there may be lots of fixed matches in the Spanish league (just as an example) but because there is no protection for whistleblowers or investigation units, we do not have any concrete examples. No one dares come forward to denounce them.

    Two, as to the state of hockey. The NHL is not great. The original documentary that I worked on in terms of Russian mob involvement with prominent hockey players is over ten year old: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hockey/

    However, the NHL is far ahead of most European soccer leagues. There they do not even have integrity units. Nor has any government launched the equivalent of a Congressional Investigation into their status. There is still much to be done.

    Best wishes,

    Declan Hill

  6. Anto says:

    Dear Mister Declan Hill

    i’m italian, i dont write very well english, but i try the same to write you.
    I’m finishing to read your book (Calcio Mafia in italian edition), and i’m very interested to read and understand your news.
    I don’t know if you know the italian book “Gomorra”, i imagine yes, and your book remember me this other book inquiry.
    I’m trying to talk about your book on italian site (like site about sports news, or forum or other things), i’d like to make to know all your great job.
    I work for my state, in the public administration (tax office) and to know there are people like you that want to discover the truth it’s a relief for my soul.
    I don’t know english people, but i’d like to see in italian people indignation and not resignation (like a member has written above, about Berlusconi).
    Sorry for my english, i hope you’ve understood what i wanted to say.
    For now, thanks again for you big job, i’m going to finish the book (now i’m at the chapter about Appiah).
    Best regards
    Anto

  7. Declan Hill says:

    Dear Anto,

    Thank you for your kind words. Feel free in the future to write in Italian, I may not be able to respond particularly well, but I can understand.

    I also have read ‘Gomorra’ and am big fan. I saw Roberto Saviano speak at Oxford and was impressed by him.

    However, do not despair. We are winning this war. Slowly, other people agencies are starting to take the threat seriously. There will always people who would rather step on the whistleblower or try to silence the messenger. But this is one campaign that we will win.

    Take heart and as my Irish relatives used to say, ‘Keep the Faith and Never Give Up’!

    Lots of good wishes,

    Declan

  8. Christel says:

    Dear Declan, sure that we will win this war – without violence. We never will give up. Best wishes for you and am hope that we can hear about the news in your new book.
    Best wishes
    Christel

  9. Declan Hill says:

    Dear Christel,

    Thank you for your kind words. I have refrained from posting a new blog for the past few months. But will be coming out with new information in the next month! In the meantime, good luck with your facebook page against match-fixing. I encourage everyone to join it!

    Best regards,

    Declan

  10. Anto says:

    Hello again dear Declan.
    Then, i tried to collect news mostly about italians scandal since 1980 to now in a blog (unfortunately it’s my first blog, so i don’t have a chronological) and it’s so impressive to note like almost every year there is a scandal…..
    Now, im writing you because i’ve read about abnormal betting in Italy about next football matches on saturday-sundey in Serie A-B (this news is from a site of an italian internet newspaper and it talks about “X” in these matches : Chievo-Parma,Modena-Piacenza, Triestina-Padova, Reggina-Torino )
    I’m trying to make to know your book in my blog (it’s only in italian, and if you want i can tell you my adress site, but i imagine you needn’t of informations or collection of italians articles), but you were right, after that i read your book, all is diferent.
    And when some weeks ago, i found an article of 20 november 2009 about suspected on Ghana-Brasile, i felt a shiver down my back. (the page is http://www.corriere.it/sport/09_novembre_20/partite_scommesse_champions_europa_calcio_86a0a88e-d5d7-11de-a0b4-00144f02aabc.shtml )

    Really im surprised about your danger job, about your great courage and perseverance, when i talk with my friends about this investigation, i m really excited to talk about these things, because i imagine what you had to do to, behind your book.
    Well, my english is a little poor (i should study it a little…) but i hope you can understand something!
    I’d like to write more and more thoughts (but maybe for the setting of the blog it’s better so!).
    I want to finish with few thoughts in italian language.

    Complimenti davvero, apprezzo molto il tuo lavoro (come ti ho detto di aver apprezzato molto Saviano, un ragazzo che per scrivere un libro come Gomorra, ha praticamente rinunciato ad avere una sua vita personale).
    Quando in questo mondo pensiamo a delle persone coraggiose, dovremmo ricordarci un po’ più spesso di questi giornalisti come te che per amore della verità, rischiano in prima persona in territori molto pericolosi, territori geografici come l’ Iraq, l’Afganisthan, il Kosovo o territori misteriosi come la mafia, la camorra, ecc.

    I salut you and i tell you only thanks for everything you do and take care of yourself always.

    Ciao, Anto.

  11. Declan Hill says:

    Dear Anto,

    Thank you for your kind words. Italian or English it is very encouraging to receive.

    As for your blog have you come across the work of Carlo Petrini, ‘Nel Fango Del Dio Pallone’? As an ex-Serie A player, he has a lot of information about fixing in the Italian league.

    Ciao a presto y grazie,

    Declan

  12. Christel says:

    @Anto
    Hi Anto, let me know the adress site of your blog. E in bocca al lupo, non ci arrenderemo.
    Christel

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