A suspicious yellow card
English Premier League team Arsenal FC has found itself at the center of an investigation into a possible case of match-fixing.
wagered high amounts of cash on the awarding of a yellow card
As first reported by The Athletic, sportsbooks alerted the Football Association (FA) to suspicious betting patterns during one of the London club’s games this season. Rather than betting on the overall score of the game however, these gamblers wagered high amounts of cash on the awarding of a yellow card.
Football Daily, a football news Twitter account, posted a video to confirm the breaking story on Wednesday evening:
As of yet, the FA has refused to provide any information on the incident, only stating that it “is aware of the matter in question and is looking into it.” Similarly, Arsenal, who are currently sitting in sixth in the EPL, have declined to comment.
Of course, when faced with a lack of information, internet detectives usually creep out of their caves to solve the mystery for the common good. This time around is no different, with soccer Twitter providing some possible offending incidents.
Get out the magnifying glass
“Let’s play a game to find the most inconspicuous yellow card an Arsenal player has received all season,” said one Twitter user, opening the floodgates for thousands of soccer fans to put forward their opinions.
a yellow card earned against Leeds United in December
Perhaps the most widely accepted prediction relates to a player who finds himself in a referee’s book more often than not. Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has received an astonishing 11 red cards in his career, but it’s a yellow card earned against Leeds United in December that Twitter users think may have landed him in hot trouble:
With his team winning 4-1 with just five minutes to go in regular time, Xhaka received the yellow card for taking too long on a free-kick. Perhaps the Swiss midfielder was simply trying to wind down the clock, but Twitter users have argued that the three-goal lead would make such a move unnecessary.
Of course, the FA has not yet confirmed whether it is investigating a player or a referee. With that in mind, some internet detectives have pointed towards a seemingly unwarranted yellow card awarded to Bukayo Saka in Arsenal’s game against Manchester City on January 1:
The fiery New Year fixture saw Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes sent off for two yellows, and midfielder Saka received a booking himself for supposedly pointing out a challenge to referee Stuart Attwell later in the game. Whether this is a genuine guess by soccer Twitter, or just Arsenal fans hoping for some form of retribution against Atwell, is another story entirely.
Finally, outside of players and referees, one Twitter user jokingly put Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in the running for his booking against Liverpool:
A deep-rooted issue
According to data analysis company Sportradar, around 90% of suspicious betting activity occurs around live in-play wagering in markets across the world.
a six-year ban for intentionally getting booked twice
Match-fixing through props bets is an issue that plagues most sporting leagues, and it does crop up in English soccer every now and then. For instance, in April 2018, professional soccer player Bradley Wood received a six-year ban for intentionally getting booked twice while playing for Lincoln Cty during their run to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Similarly, ex-professional soccer player Matt Le Tissier recently revealed in his autobiography that he had placed a wager on the timing of the first throw-in in a match he played in. Ultimately, the police decided not to pursue any legal action against the Southampton legend, who has also since confirmed that he suffers from a betting addiction.