In 2013, Europol, the European Union’s Joint police body, reported that it had found examples of nearly 700 soccer games around the world whose results seemed suspicious. The high number aside, the allegations of match fixing were unsurprising thanks to the low-scoring nature and commonality of soccer around the world which makes it an easier target than other team sports.
Take a look at famous sports betting scandals which have rocked the world of international sport.
Pete Rose was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds for 14 years and denied betting on baseball until an autobiography he stood to profit from was released in 2003. Then, 4 years later he told a radio show he bet on the Reds every night, but this wasn’t completely true. A report commissioned by Major League Baseball years earlier revealed that Rose laid off his team depending on the starting pitcher and had a terrible conversion rate, losing thousands of dollars.
In 1960, before a Senate hearing and after the statute of limitations on prosecution had run out, Jake LaMotta admitted that he took a dive in a 1947 stoppage loss against Billy Fox in order to secure an eventual chance at the middleweight title. LaMotta claimed to not know who was behind the play, claiming his brother was the intermediary, which contradicted a signed deposition stating that it was Fox’s people, mobsters Blinky Palermo and Frankie Carbo – who were eventually sent away for several years on conspiracy and extortion charges.
Horse racing is no stranger to betting scandals and there have been so many that it’s almost impossible to focus on just one. Horse racing has seen everything from ringer jockeys and horses posing as apparent amateurs, to computer-savvy frat brothers committing an inside job after altering the Pick Six bets in the national system used in the United States. In Australia, where Melbourne cup betting is big business, Damien Oliver in 2013 admitted to betting on Miss Octopussy – a rival jockey’s horse – through an intermediary.
In 2007, veteran referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to a year and 3 months in jail for betting on NBA games and providing insider information regarding player injuries and referee tendencies to a pair of acquaintances. Donaghy alleged that another, unnamed, official was very selective in his foul calls in Game 6 of a 2002 playoff series, which ensured a 7th and deciding game. The NBA vehemently denied this claim.
Rewind to the 1940s when the NHL was rocked by a pair of scandals. Babe Pratt of the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Hart Trophy in 1943/1944, but was ensnared just 2 years later when a gambling ring was brought down. Pratt admitted to betting on NHL games which did not involve his team and ultimately only missed 9 games before being reinstated. However, productive players Don Gallinger and Billy Taylor of the Boston Bruins didn’t get off as easy after betting on several of their team’s games, and they were banished from the league for life in 1947/1948.
In 2006, eventual gold medal hockey winners Sweden blanked 3-0 in their final round-robin game against Slovakia, but the results were suspicious as Sweden failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play but gained an elimination round matchup against Switzerland, instead of Russia – who had beaten them 5-0 earlier in the draw – or Canada. Years later, Peter Forsberg admitted that some team members discussed ensuring the more favourable path which led to the predictable ‘lost in translation’ claims from fellow Swedes.