Match-fixing heaven

Close to a thousand semi-professional and youth football matches from Europe are available for live-betting on a typical weekend, an audit of the global betting industry has found.

It’s a number that eclipses the amount of professional games available and it has raised concerns about the exposure of players to organised crime and led to claims that football has lost control of its relationship with bookmakers.

By Jack Kerr

Across the weekend of March 18-20 this year, we monitored the offerings of four bookmakers. The sites ranged from an unlicensed white label to a giant of the industry, and all were known to provide a diverse and extensive selection of games from the various tiers of football.

In this 72 hour window, in-play betting was available on more than 1600 football games from leagues run by football associations that are members of UEFA. More than half of these could, by our estimates, be considered semi-professional, including many youth and regional leagues.

One in ten games on offer came from under 19 competitions.

At its peak, more than 260 new games were put onto the market in a two hour period. For a period from late Sunday morning to mid-afternoon, almost 90 new games were made available for live betting every hour. 

Almost one in seven games came from Spain alone (232 in total), with the vast majority of these being played in the country’s various semi-professional leagues. 

Less than a quarter of those games came from the professional t...

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