HBO's 'Real Sports' Program Examines Match-Fixing Of Professional Football Matches
The issue of match-fixing of professional football games around the world was examined on HBO's "Real Sports" Tuesday night, with HBO's Bryant Gumbel noting "authorities in Europe recently announced that nearly 400 professional soccer games across the continent are suspected of being fixed." Gumbel said "investigators" looking for those that are fixing the games "are looking east, to Asia." An unidentified match fixer said, "Footballers are the easiest people to corrupt. They like to drink, they like to womanize and they like to gamble so they need money." A former match-fixer, Ante Sapina, said when asked if most players he approached to fix a game would agree, "Most would say yes." INTERPOL Secretary General Ron Noble said exposing match-fixing is as "important to us as organized crime and a variety of other areas." Gumbel noted the money involved in these fixes "is huge." Gumbel: "According to authorities, it's into the billions each year." Noble called it a "low-risk, high-return endeavor" and the chances of "getting caught and prosecuted if you're engaged in match-fixing around the world is really low." Gumbel said, "In recent years, INTERPOL has started to gather some evidence. Authorities have been monitoring the flow of cash from Asian syndicates to European players." Former FIFA Head of Security Chris Eaton noted, "Half the countries in the world in some way have experienced a match-fixing in football." Eaton said he had "no idea when I came to FIFA this was a problem." Eaton: "My recognition of the problem evolved over time. By the time I left FIFA I had realized the enormity of the problem FIFA was facing, but not just FIFA, every sport." Noble added, "You have to be really, really, really naïve to think it isn’t happening in the U.S. or it won't happen in the U.S." Gumbel noted "while the authorities are fighting a losing battle, they have had some small victories." But he added, "But with so much money being offered to so many players, officials are ultimately trying to fight human nature and in that contest it seems the fix is in" ("Real Sports," HBO, 6/24).