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An investigation is currently underway in the UK regarding suspicious betting on an SPL clash between Motherwell and Hearts last week. Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings was shown a straight red with seven minutes to go at Fir Park for comments made to referee Stevie O’ Reilly. Betting firm Blue Square later revealed that during the game a punter had set up a new account, placed ₤ 200 on a sending off at odds of 10-1 and was later denied further attempts to wager more money on the same bet. Other bookmaking firms have also reported irregular activity on the red card market for the match. Jennings has maintained his innocence, with Motherwell publicly supporting their midfielder, who insists that nothing improper took place. The investigation, now over a week old, looks like being a lengthy one, with the SFA refusing to comment on findings so far.

It seems inevitable that corruption will now and again rear its ugly head in the world of soccer betting. With the popularity of the game and the ever-growing interest in online soccer tipping and betting sites, the stakes being wagered have reached an all time high. Of course the vast majority of these punters are just like you or I, trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side by betting on the game we love. In recent years, however, there have been stories of high level gambling syndicates who are trying to corrupt the beautiful game. In some instances they are succeeding, with players and officials getting involved. As if we haven’t enough to consider before placing our bets with form, weather, injuries, etc. Do we really have to wonder about the validity of the game and the morality of the players? Let’s delve into the archives to look at some recent betting scandals that have left a black cloud hanging over the football world.

Goalkeeper takes a dive – In 1993 Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was caught on videotape discussing match-fixing with a gambling syndicate. He, along with the Wimbledon goalkeeper Hans Segers, Aston Villa striker John Fashanu and a Malaysian businessman, was charged with conspiracy to corrupt the national English sport. He was accused of taking £40,000 to ensure that Liverpool lost to Newcastle, as well as trying, unsuccesfully, to lose a match between Liverpool and Manchester United. Grobbelaar’s ridiculous defense was that he was simply gathering evidence to go to the police, and two separate trials resulted in the juries failing to reach a verdict. The Durban-born goalkeeper was ultimately cleared, but his reputation was so tarnished that, when he sued the Sun for libel, Lord Bingham ruled that he was not damaged by the allegations and if anything he had knowingly tried to place a huge blemish on the game so passionately followed by millions. He was subsequently forced to pay for the Sun’s legal bills.

Floodlight failure – There were two occurrences of floodlight failure in the 1997 season of the English Premier League. The first came when West Ham played Crystal Palace and the floodlights suddenly failed after the Hammers had equalised. The second floodlight failure happened when Wimbledon played Arsenal and the lights failed after half time with the scores also level. If a game was abandoned with the scores level then the result would stand as far as betting was concerned. A Malaysian syndicate had bribed inside staff to tamper with the electrics and stood to make a reported £30 million from the outcomes. They came unstuck during a third attempt at floodlight tampering when they tried to bribe a Charlton staff member who let the cat out of the bag.

2005 Bundesliga referees - In January 2005, German prosecutors and the German Football Association started separate inquiries into charges that a referee had fixed and bet on various matches including a German cup tie. Later the referee in question, Robert Hoyzer, admitted the allegations. There were reports of links with the notorious Croat gambling gang. Further investigations revealed that he had actually been involved in fixing more matches than he had originally admitted. On February 12th he was arrested and a lifetime ban has been imposed on him by the DFB. On March 10th, police arrested Dominik Marks, another German referee, for being involved in match fixing. Hoyzer was sentenced to prison for two years and five months.

2006 Serie A Scandal – In 2006 a match fixing scandal was uncovered by Italian police involving league champions Juventus and challengers Lazio, Fiorentina and AC Milan. Teams had apparently managed to choose favourable referees for their matches, thus increasing their chances of winning. Italian World Cup goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was also accused for staking money on football matches. All four clubs were denied entry in the European club competition in 2006-2007. Champions Juventus were hardest hit as they were relegated to the Serie B and stripped of their previous two Serie A titles.

2009 Germany and Turkey - In November 2009 German police arrested 17 people in a match fixing scandal that hit leagues in nine different countries, including Germany, Turkey and Switzerland. Of the 24 matches that prosecutors say were fixed, 10 were in Germany. Phone taps along with 50 raids conducted in November unfurled evidence pointing to 200 suspects. The accused had profited to the tune of several million euros, the majority of which was earned by placing large bets in Asia via agents based in London. The same case led to Turkish police arresting 46 people in 26 towns and cities across the country. Among those detained were a number of well-known players and coaches, including Arif Erdem, one of Turkey's most famous international players. It is believed the gamblers made at least 10 million euros on the games.

These are some of the more high profile cases which have arisen in recent years. The good news is that the majority of players, coaches and staff are interested in playing football and winning fairly. Being a team sport makes fixing matches for favourable soccer betting outcomes difficult. With eleven men on each team, the chances of one player significantly altering the outcome are improbable. I will be very interested to hear the outcome of the Steve Jennings red card investigation. Regardless of the findings, I think that match fixing, disgusting as it is, does not occur frequently enough to take into account when analysing games to produce soccer tips for betting. Visit our home page to find out more about how you can profit from our free soccer tips and football betting advice.

 

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Hallescher  v  Karlsruhe GERMANY 3 LIGA  8 December 2012

Our next pick comes from the third tier of German football, where I'm tipping Karlsruhe (who provided us with a win last weekend) to continue their excellent form today. They have now moved up to third place thanks to a superb winning streak of seven consecutive league games (the last three wins were by a margin of 3 or more goals). Today they travel to play an inconsistent Hallescher side that haven't won at home since August. Their home record currently stands at 2.3.4 and they sit just 2 points clear of the relegation zone before kick off. Karlsruhe have won four and drawn two of their last six league games on the road and the free scoring side look great value to do the business today. Odds for a Karlsruhe victory are too good to overlook and seem to have been overpriced by the bookmakers. Away win. 

 Verdict:     Away win at $2.10   Outcome:  WIN  Result 0-2

Soccer Goals at night