FBI Joins FIFA Task Force to Monitor Potential Match-Fixing at FIFA World Cup 2022

  • FBI unit chief Joseph Gillespie attended the FIFA task force’s first meeting in Zurich
  • Feds are looking to the 2026 World Cup, which the US, Canada, and Mexico will co-host
  • UFDS reported record match-fixing alerts in 2021 and predicts similar or greater levels in 2022
  • 2015 FBI probe led to the banning of FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter for financial misconduct
FIFA World Cup stadium in Qatar
The FBI has joined a FIFA task force to monitor for the first time “the betting markets and in-game action in real time” for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ starting November 20 in Qatar. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Extra eyes on the ball

Amid warnings of increased match-fixing by industry watchdogs and with the FIFA World Cup 2022™ kicking off on November 20, comes news that the FBI has joined the FIFA anti-crime Integrity Task Force.

monitoring “the betting markets and in-game action in real time”

The task force and FIFA will make history by monitoring for the first time “the betting markets and in-game action in real time” for all 64 games.

FIFA announced the news Thursday following the first meeting of the task force at FIFA’s Zurich HQ, which was attended by FBI unit chief/program strategist for transnational organized crime and integrity in sport, Joseph Gillespie. According to FOX 5 New York, FIFA and the FBI will work together to prevent crimes such as match-fixing and illegal betting.

The FBI’s new relationship with FIFA comes as the US’s principal law enforcement and investigative service readies itself for the 2026 world soccer showpiece, which the US, Canada, and Mexico will co-host.

Feds in town

Gillespie was one of the federal investigators at the Zurich task force meeting, which also included Interpol and Sportradar, the provider of the Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS) used by FIFA and over one hundred other world sports bodies.

The history-making move to monitor betting activity and live-game wagers across all 64 World Cup games follows Sportradar’s UFDS flagging 903 cases of suspicious betting activity for 2021, a record number in the service provider’s 17-year history.

Sportradar pegged the match-fixers’ profits at an estimated €165m ($160m)

Sportradar’s UFDS report estimated that worldwide betting turnover reached €1.45trn ($1.41trn) for 2021. Looking at the 903 suspicious cases, Sportradar pegged the match-fixers’ profits at an estimated €165m ($160m). Sportradar Integrity Services managing director Andreas Krannich said match-fixing was increasingly direct, with perpetrators messaging athletes via social media platforms.

When publishing the UFDS report in March, Krannich predicted similar or greater levels of match-fixing alerts for 2022.

Teams, referees involved

FIFA appears to have taken heed. In its Thursday press release, FIFA stated it will also organize integrity workshops with all 32 teams and the appointed referees involved.

Recent suspected match-fixing headliners include a wild penalty miss in Nigeria and a fresh probe into alleged Albanian mafia game-rigging links to Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka’s controversial sending-off.

This is also not the first time FIFA and the Feds have been to the dance. A 2015 FBI investigation led to the removal of a rash of international soccer officials and got FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter banned for financial misconduct.