Soccer Poses Highest Risk of Match Fixing With 500+ Suspicious Games in 2021

  • Sportradar has detected 1,100 supicious sports matches since the beginning of the pandemic
  • Around 76% of suspicious matches in 2021 occured in soccer, accounting for 500+ cases
  • Esports match fixing has become a growing issue, with 70 suspicious matches since April 2020
  • This year has seen multiple high-profile fixing cases, including soccer players in Sweden
Person offers cash for soccer ball
Sportradar has revealed that soccer is at the highest risk of match fixing in comparison to other sports, accounting for more than 500 suspicious game alerts in 2021 alone. [Image:]

Sportradar reveals all

According to findings recently made public by global sports betting supplier Sportradar, professional soccer is the sport most prone to match fixing. The company announced the news on its website on Wednesday as part of work completed by its Sportradar Integrity Services unit.

1,100 suspicious sports matches since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

The research involved 12 different sports across more than 70 countries. By utilizing its bet monitoring tool, the Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS), Sportradar has detected more than 1,100 suspicious sports matches since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. In total, 655 of those matches occurred in the first nine months of 2021.

Soccer accounted for around 76% of that suspicious activity, with more than 500 potential match fixing cases detected in 2021 to date. Around 40% of these instances occurred in the lower levels of the sport, including third tier leagues and below.

An ever-changing problem

In comments published this week, managing director for Integrity Services at Sportradar Andreas Krannich described match fixing as an “evolving” issue. “Those behind it are diversifying their approach, both in the sports and competitions they target, and the way they make approaches to athletes,” Krannich explained.

One of the ways in which the match fixing world has changed over recent years is through the popularity of esports. Since April of last year, Sportradar’s UFDS has detected 70 suspicious esports matches involving five different game titles. More than 40 of these have occurred since the beginning of 2021.

The Esports Integrity Commission is currently completing an investigation into esports match fixing with the aim of cracking down on the illicit behavior. In an update released in August, the body announced it had sanctioned three professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive players for match fixing offenses.

Overall, the sports integrity unit has detected the highest level of suspicious activity in Europe so far this year, including 382 matches. Latin America accounted for the second highest at 115, while the Asia Pacific region has seen 74, and North America only nine. In addition to suspicious soccer activity and esports, the UFDS detected potential match fixing cases in tennis (37), basketball (19), ice hockey (9), and other sports.

High-profile match fixing

As is evident from Sportradar’s announcement, match fixing is a global issue, and this year has already seen multiple cases make it into the news. In the world of tennis, Argentine player Franco Feitt received a $25,000 fine and a lifetime ban for fixing games in April. Sweden’s National Operations Department also arrested five people in Stockholm with links to the illicit activity.

Also in Sweden, the nation’s Football Association announced that it had issued bans to four soccer players in September this year. The body determined the men had violated a number of anti-match fixing regulations, including one player taking up to SEK300,000 ($34,440) to receive a yellow card in a game.

accepted thousands in euros from a match fixer

In September, a professional Dutch tennis player revealed details of a match fixing ring involving at least ten international players. Remaining anonymous, he explained in a Dutch podcast that the players accepted thousands in euros from a match fixer to lose certain games or sets. The players supposedly hailed from France, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, in the US, the NHL recently cleared San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane of allegations related to match fixing. Kane immediately denied the claims made on Instagram by his “soon to be ex wife” earlier this year. She alleged that Kane bet on his own games and intentionally threw matches to win cash.

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