The Telegraph has revealed this evening that members of an alleged betting syndicate have been arrested on suspicion of fixing English football games.
Not only is this one of the biggest scandals to be revealed in recent times, but it is of the utmost importance. If those under arrest are proven guilty, then the integrity of the game we love has already been diminished.
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One of the biggest contributing factors in attracting fans to football is the wild unpredictability that comes hand in hand with it. The brilliant thing about football is that anything (supposedly) can happen. Manchester City’s unbelievable victory over Queens Park Rangers which lead to them winning the Premier League for example, Southampton’s fantastic start to this season, Coventry City ending up in the predicament that they have done. Anything is possible.
When match fixing is involved in football, that element of unpredictability is subtracted. While the fans at home, or at the match, are still unable to predict what will happen, the truth of the matter is that the match in question has been predetermined. Yellow and red cards premeditated, players purposefully missing a sitter, or an inconspicuously biased referee.
Football is a goldmine of wonga, every crevice of the game is absolutely stuffed full of money, every transfer, goal, or new contract is rewarded with ludicrous amounts of cash. This is something that fans can live with, to an extent. The difficult thing for fans is that they bring home a disposable income in a year that is less than what a League One footballer could rake in in a week. Regardless of this, these loyal, mostly working class football fans continue to pay out ridiculous sums of their salary in order to watch their team play week in and week out. So to be completely and utterly ripped off in a scandal such as this, is a disgrace to the game.
The analogy of George Orwell’s 1984 could be used to describe this scandal. The proletariat sit at the bottom of the hierarchy, blissfully unaware of the exploitation they are subjected to, sat in their plastic seats every other Saturday, eating an overpriced pie and chips. While at the other end of the spectrum, the oligarchs, reflective of Big Brother, swivel on their leather seats, responsible for the exploitation induced upon the proles, laughing as they count their cash by the thousands.
It is disgusting that the people who inject money into the national game could be being treated in such a disrespectful, exploitative way.
With sports such as wrestling, fans know it is fixed. Fans understand that they are paying money to see acting, to see premeditated fights with a predetermined outcome. They know, understand and accept that. In so many words, they tacitly consent to paying money for falseness. There is nothing wrong with that – it is in the open, mutually understood.
In football, fans do not tacitly consent to being exploited, to paying to support a team which could be losing purposefully. For the majority of football fans their team winning or losing does not bring them money in return – it brings them joy, sadness, bragging rights, conversation. For some, it is something to live for.
Football fans become excited before a match, they know it could go either way, they can't predict what the scoreline will be, or whether a red card will be shown – and it is unequivocally unacceptable that they could be paying for a match, which they do not believe to be predetermined, when in fact it is.
Fixing matches is indefensibly wrong. It is morally wrong. Ethics is something which attracts rare discussion in sports, people struggle to decide on what is considered cheating for example. But this sort of scandal is far more than something as trivial as diving in an attempt to get a penalty.
This is a clear breach of ethics. For this reason, it needs to be investigated fully, with consequences such as imprisonment enforced. Deception within the game is unjustifiable. Fans who inject so much money, which often they cannot afford, deserve far more than deception, premeditated matches, lying, and pure cheating.
Being against modern football is to be against changes in the game such as rising ticket prices, or against the strictness of stewards and policing within the game. Rising ticket prices is something that for the most part, can be accepted by fans, as is stricter safety regulations. Match fixing however does not represent 'modern football', it should not be associated with modern football in any way, because to associate it with modern football is to deem it as socially acceptable.
Match fixing represents organised crime.
The worst thing for fans regarding this scandal is that it is barely even surprising. While it is shocking, disgraceful and disgusting – it is barely surprising. That is what is concerning – that such illegal activity can happen and fans are deeming the scandal as inevitable.
Football at the moment is in a position where organised crime is being allowed to happen and where it is even expected by some fans.