An investigation supported by the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), the CIES Football Observatory, and the football players’ unions of Cyprus, Greece, and Malta lead to conclusions on lack of supervision
Match-fixing appears to be ripe for soccer “friendlies,” according to a new study done by the University of Nicosia Research Foundation in Cyprus.
The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) stated that criminal gangs are taking advantage of a lack of supervision in friendly football matches. Friendlies had more questionable behavior than other games.
More than 250 friendly matches involving European teams “showed signals of suspicious behavior” over the recorded period of 2016-2020, according to a new study by the University of Nicosia Research Foundation, which was supported by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program.
According to a poll of 700 players from Cyprus, Greece, and Malta, more than a quarter of them (26.5 percent) have played in a friendly match that they felt was rigged.
More than a quarter (26.3%) of offers to fix a friendly match were made by club officials, and 15% by other players, which is cause for worry. According to research, club officials were the key benefactors in 26.3 percent of efforts to manipulate friendly, and they were the main instigators in 19 percent of attempts.
These games are vulnerable to match-fixing due to a lack of regulation and the availability of friendly football matches on unregulated operators situated in Curaçao and the Philippines.
President of the Council of the University of Nicosia, Professor Nicos Kartakoullis said “The combination of a lack of regulation, oversight, and information makes these matches easier to manipulate than competitive matches.”
Friendlies, unlike competitive matches, are normally covered by agreements between data companies and tournament organizers.
The IBIA notified “International and national football federations have been slow to establish where responsibility lies for friendlies, particularly when clubs from different countries are involved in non-competitive matches played in a third country. Some European football federations do not track where clubs go on pre-season and mid-winter tours.”
The study backs up the precautions provided in the paper “Combating Match Fixing in Club Football Non-Competitive Friendlies,” in which UEFA advocated that all 55 member associations regulate friendlies.
In Europe alone, there are 1,000 professional soccer clubs competing in 38 leagues. A total of 2,000 games would be played if each side played two friendlies every year.
The lead investigator Professor Nicos Kartakoullis, President of the Council, University of Nicosia advised that “this research shows that in terms of governance, friendly matches need to be considered just like competitive matches.”
“With the data for 4,000 friendly matches being offered for betting purposes around the world each year, it is also vital that the betting companies receiving that data are operating from well-regulated jurisdictions and report suspicious betting to protect the integrity of those events.”
SiGMA Calendar 2022
2022 will see SiGMA Group launch in a number of exciting up-and-coming locations, the first of which will be Kenya, with Nairobi on the agenda for March. Here we plan to tap into a marketplace bursting with sports fans, and a young, digitally connected generation. We’ve also planned expos for countries taking their first steps as regulated marketplaces – in June we’ll be heading to Toronto and Ukraine – in what will be the first live events for new brands SiGMA Americas and SiGMA CIS. Both countries are set to test the waters with operators and affiliates next year, making them a great location for SiGMA Group’s conference stage and buzzing expo floor.