Fixing friendlies – zero scrutiny

Low level club friendlies remain at greater risk of match fixing but football’s international governing bodies are doing little or nothing to try and regulate what are essentially privately organised fixtures with no integrity safeguarding.

By Steve Menary

During the World Cup, swathes of clubs used the down-time created by the suspension of league fixtures to play friendly games, often abroad against clubs from other countries. Some leagues are returning to action, but others will not resume until warmer weather returns in 2023. Friendlies will fill this void and the coming months are when there is a greater risk of matches being manipulated.

The annual Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football produced by data companies Star Lizard and STATS Perform has consistently shown that friendly matches are at greater risk than competitive games. In 2021, 61,296 matches were analysed and 0.35 percent of games were identified as suspicious, while 1.19 percent of friendly games were given the same rating.

An Erasmus+ project co-funded by the European Union identified more than 250 friendly matches played in Europe between 2016 and 2020 as suspicious and 44 percent of these fixtures were played in January and February.

With club operating losses increasing according to UEFA’s latest benchmarking report, clubs are particularly vulnerable, particularly in smaller leagues where commercial income is scarce. This increases the likelihood of clubs being i...

You must be a subscriber to read this article

Josimar is entirely dependent on our subscribers to tell the stories from football that matter. Become a subscriber today!

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.