Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Doha Summit on Sports Security is going on now.

Do not believe a syllable of anything that emerges from that meeting.  Trust very few of the people who are speaking there.   What you are witnessing is an extraordinary and costly charade.

There is a superb line in the film by John Sayles Eight Men Out about the fixing at the World Series of Baseball in 1919 that explains, in general, what is going on in Doha.   In the film, one of the characters says, after an investigative journalist has revealed that there was fixing in the World Series and all of the United States has been scandalized by the corruption:

“There is a parade forming to clean up baseball and the league wants to get to the head of the parade and makes sure it chooses where that parade goes.”

What we see in Doha is the sports world doing the same thing.

It is very difficult to find a sports fan anywhere in the world who does not think that the idea of a World Cup in Qatar in 2022 is ridiculous and that someone, somewhere bought that tournament.

One of the former senior executives of Qatari sport and world soccer – Mohammed bin Hammam– is under investigation for openly offering bribes to get himself elected to the presidency of FIFA.

Now, we have the same country – Qatar – proposing it lead the fight against corruption in sport.

Sure, it will.

Are there some honest people there?  Yes. Will there be lots of strong-sounding words and firm resolutions coming out of the Doha conference? Yes.

But will there be any investigation of ay possible irregularities of the Qatar World Cup bid of 2022? Nope.

Will anyone dare mention the words Mohammed bin Hammam and bribery investigation in the same sentence?Nope.

Will there be a single useful plan of action coming out of Doha to properly fight sports corruption?

Nope.

Let us move to the real situation in match fixing.  Here is the headline:

Nothing has changed.

The man – Dan Tan – wanted by European police for fixing football matches across five continents – is still free.

There is an enormous media campaign by Singaporean authorities, Interpol and FIFA to convince you that something has changed.  Nothing has changed.

The arrest clock is still ticking.   On November 28, 2012 – Ron Noble, the head of Interpol declared that there would be ‘arrests imminently in Singapore’.  We are still waiting. (And no, the arrest of Admir Suljic by Italian police does not count).

Remember these two essential factors:

1)    Dan Tan is still free.

2)    A number of national and international organizations (FIFA, Singapore Government, Interpol)  are trying their best to persuade you that something has changed.

Understand those two factors and you understand much about the situation that we face in fighting match-fixing in international sport.  Widespread fixing exists and the bodies tasked with fighting it are spending enormous resources and ingenuity not in arresting the people who are alleged to have done it, but by pretending to fight it.   This week’s conference in Doha is another example of the fake fight.

 

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