Putin: an end to match-fixing

Would you ever “throw” a sports game?
What if you were offered $100,000?

It is wrong to damage the integrity of the game, no matter how large the benefit is. For years there have been conspiracies of match-fixing in almost every sport. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is trying to end this misconduct in his home country.

1919 Black Sox Scandal

When the topic of match-fixing comes up, the most famous event that comes to mind is the “Black Sox” Scandal that took place during the 1919 World Series. “Sport” Sullivan, a gambler from New York, offered $80,000 to eight Chicago White Sox players to “throw” the series so he could cash in on a bet. The scandal was brought to light and all eight players were suspended from Major League Baseball for life.

Match-fixing is still commonly talked about on Twitter, especially after a referee makes a bad call. Whether the accusations are true or not, people love to talk about it.

Twitter on Match-fixing

In Russia, there have always been conspiracies of match-fixing, and rightfully so, with the numerous instances that seem obvious. The Fix Is In, home of the nation’s most skeptical fan and #1 sports conspiracy theorist, listed many times match-fixing may have played a role in sports. To point out a few from the list that  occurred in Russian sports :

1970s-80s – During the height of the Russian hockey program, its greatest team was known as the Moscow Red Army (TSKA). During this time, the team’s skate sharpener, the president of Sparta Moscow (TSKA’ chief rival), TSKA St. Petersburg team president and the president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation were all murdered by the Russian mafia. Most believe all of these murders were linked to gambling and game fixes.

2003 – Belarus goalie Valery Shantolosov was arrested for attempting to fix two Euro qualifying matches. Though Shantolosov did not play in either game, he was connected to Russian gamblers and accused of attempting to bribe and otherwise influence the outcome of these games. His team lost both contests.

2009 – The WTA looked into a suspicious ending of a tennis match between U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki after she unexpectedly retired from a match winning 7-5, 5-0 (meaning she was a single game away from winning). Wozniacki claimed afterwards that she was injured early in the first set, and her father instructed her to quit when she did, afraid of her further injuring herself. Betting on the match had swung heavily to her opponent prior to Wozniacki quitting.”

Putin discussing match-fixing

President Putin has decided to step up his effort to end corruption in Russian sports. Putin will introduce a bill into Russia’s parliament that increases jail time for anyone involved in match-fixing. Violaters will be subject for up to seven years in prison, which also includes fines up to 1 million roubles ($32,000).

Reported by Gennady Fyodorov of Oztips on Yahoo Sports, “FIFPro, the global union for professional players, published a survey of nearly 3,400 players from Eastern Europe this year that attributed match-fixing in Russia was as high as 43.5 percent.”  While I think the new law is a step in the right direction, 43.5 percent is a significant amount of corruption.  It remains to be seen how effective these measures really are when the odds are stacked against them. Just how big of an effect can this really have, considering the scope of this worldwide problem? I can’t respond with a definite answer, but at least we have a starting point.

With Russia set to host the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup, there is no room for match-fixing. It is important for Russia to implement these laws promptly, before they are set to be on the world’s stage.