Any games on today?
Why yes, Johnny. It’s the Thursday Europa League fixture dump. And so because I don’t want to pretend I know what’s going, here’s the deal. First, check the group standings, one by one. Next, check the fixture list. Make some mental notes. And enjoy your afternoon!
Alright, in all seriousness, Swansea hosting Valencia at 3:05 PM today could be interesting…
What’s the big story today?
Six people have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into an international match-fixing ring targeting English lower league football matches. The suspects, thought to be held at a police station in the Midlands, reportedly include current players and the former Premier League footballer turned agent Delroy Facey.
The arrests, made by the new National Crime Agency over the past two days, mark the first time that police in the UK have amassed enough evidence to arrest those involved in seeking systematically to fix matches to make money in the vast illegal Asian betting markets.
“Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing. The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate,” said the NCA on Wednesday night. “The NCA is working closely with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association. This is an active investigation and we are unable to provide further detail at this time.”
Though the allegations don’t involve Premier League matches or clubs, let me just be as clear as I can: don’t be naive.
As for the investigation itself, it should be noted that it seemed to have been sparked by the Telegraph’s undercover work. Which begs the question…should this kind of thing really be left to the broadsheets? Do investigative bodies have the resources they need to tackle this sort of thing?
Any other news?
Coverage continuesafter the World Cup stadium accident in San Paolo which claimed the lives of two workers. As ESPNFC notes:
It was not the first problem with World Cup stadiums in Brazil.
One worker died during construction of a stadium in the capital Brasilia last year and another in the Manaus venue in March. Also in March, heavy rains flooded the construction site of the Maracana Stadium, forcing the cancellation of a FIFA inspection visit at the time. In May, a small part of the roof at the Salvador stadium fell in after it was not able to sustain the large amount of water that settled on top of it.
The BBC takes an unfortunate alarmist stance.
Ryan Giggs is old but still very, very good reports the Mail.
Dortmund’s Sven Bender takes Gerard Pique’s place as football’s pre-eminent bleeder.
And if you ever wanted a story that encapsulated everything you need to know about football culture, here it is.
Any fun stuff?
Douglas Costa’s lovely strike from Shakhtar’s 4-0 win over Real Sociedad is a thing of beauty:
Any interesting reads?
Yes. Law in Sport ran this article last October but it’s worth reprinting now in light of match-fixing allegations in the UK. While it uses Finland as a case study, many of the hallmarks remain the same. A sample:
In the era of internet and new technologies i.e. smart phones and tablets, potentially anyone can place bets on football matches played anywhere. The same goes with bookmakers; Finnish monopoly bookmaker Veikkaus does not enjoy exclusive rights to offer Finnish football matches for betting but those can be offered freely by any bookmaker online. It is often thought among the general public in Finland that the relevant (and the only) bookmakers offering Finnish football for betting are located in Europe. Many even believe that the only such bookmaker is Veikkaus. That is not the case, however it is rather easy to see the roots of this general misconception.