Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm sure I'm not alone in watching certain sporting events and thinking there's something funny going on. You know, things don't seem right during the action or there's been a weird decision at the end of it all.

Happens a lot when I'm watching boxing and there's a points decision that makes you just say wtf out loud (did anyone see the recent Tyson Fury-John McDermott heavyweight contest? Wow!). I'm sure that on the vast majority of occasions there's nothing more to it than crap refereeing/officiating.

When it comes to football, there's always been lots of murmers about match-fixing over the years, whether it's players throwing games or suspect floodlight failures. We usually think though that it's just the conspiracy theorists in full flow and our game is pretty much clean.

UEFA made an announcement yesterday that will make many wonder just how clean our game is.

The head of UEFA's disciplinary services, Peter Limacher, said that the governing body are investigating 40 cases of suspected match fixing over the last four years. The games are all in both European competitions, the Champions League and UEFA Cup, and involve mainly Eastern European teams.

Earlier this year, UEFA banned Macedonian club FK Pobeda from European competitions for eight years after they found them guilty of throwing a game.

So how rife is this problem? Is it coming from the organised criminal fraternity or is it just the smaller teams trying to make a quick buck out of a competition they know they have pretty much no chance of advancing in?

We may get answers to the latter question following UEFA's investigation but probably not the first one. And maybe it's better we don't find out terrible news, for the more games that UEFA (or FIFA) reveal as being fixed, then the more the integrity of the game is going to be affected. What we don't want to get to is every Cup shock or surprise result leaving fans wondering whether everything was by the book.

As far as we know, there are no results involving Scottish teams under suspicion. Sadly, their horrendously poor performances of late have all been down to them just being really crap.

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