More Revelations, the Nigerian Goalkeeper and Ralf Mutschke, Brazilian Fixing How to Win Money on the Gambling Market and Hoyzer the Hero.

There are more revelations to come:

Big stories.  Huge. Stay tuned.

For now, in the lead up to the World Cup, some reflections:

 The Nigerian Goalie, Ralf Mutshcke and Fixing Games

I like Ralf Mutschke.  The former German police officer turned FIFA security officer has enough courage to admit that the match-fixers might be at the World Cup.   He lays out a series of misguided measures to defend the integrity of the tournament, but at least we can now begin an adult discussion about how to best defend the tournament.

Here is why Mutshcke’s methods are wrong.

You know the story:  Nigeria vs. Scotland. Played late May.  An excellent undercover source tips off the English police that the game might be fixed.  Someone – some how – also tips of the English media that the police have been warned.   The newspaper headlines follow – ‘Game To Be Fixed’,  ‘Police on High Alert’ and lots of press articles using clichés like ‘No stone unturned… ‘game to be monitored closely’…. ‘Investigators to be sternly speaking to players…’

In the actual match the Nigerian goalkeeper rose magnificently in the air caught the ball and then seemed to throw it in his own net.   [Link below for those of you who have not seen the incident.]

The referee disallowed the goal for an unrelated foul but after the match the Internet was buzzing with speculation about the goal.  There were articles questioning the keeper’s integrity.  There were a myriad of stores about a possible fix.

Then what happened?

Nothing – absolutely nothing: No investigation.  No inquiry. No suspension of the goalkeeper or anyone else.

This is the weakness of the FIFA system.  The one that the good Ralf Mutshcke is proposing.  A match is flagged as suspicious.  A monitoring team descends to closely observe the game.   Then what happens?  Nothing.

This is the problem.  Football is a wonderful fallible exercise: mistakes are made; highly skilled athletes screw-up. It is part of the reason that we enjoy the sport.   Even the Lionel Messis and Cristiano Ronaldos of the world make a mis-kick of some kind in every match.

Mutschke’s defence depends on this exercise: tip-offs, closely monitoring games, players spoken to sternly.  In the case of the Nigeria vs. Scotland game it was useless.  It was useless in preventing what could have been genuine mistakes.  It was useless in preventing reams of speculation about the integrity of the match.

Mustchke should be given kudos for trying to protect the credibility of the game – but there are better ways to defend the sport.   They will be posted later this week.


            Fixing at the World Cup 2014

If there is to be any authority sponsored fixing.  By this I mean, not gambling related, but where some powerful official wants a certain team to win, like the allegations around the referee’s decisions at the 2002 World Cup in favour of the South Korean team (something, by the way, that a certain very senior FIFA official told me he thought was happening).

If this fixing is to occur, it will be in Brazil’s favour.

Yes, I know. The Brazilians are a strong team. They should easily win the tournament.  But what if they do not?   What if they lose to Spain?  Or the Netherlands? Or Germany?  All of these teams could beat them on their day. All of these teams could play Brazil.

If Brazil are to lose there may be blood on the streets: serious riots, major demonstrations and key favelas in flames.

The current protests are the dispossessed and the usual suspects of left-wing unions and intellectuals.  Most of Brazil is just waiting for the football to start. However, should their team lose, particularly in the round of 16 or the quarter-finals many of the people who are content to watch football will not be content to sit around any more.

There are very good reasons for the average Brazilian to protest. Their tax money has been looted by a kleptocracy of corrupt construction companies and dubious government officials.    Their transport system, hospitals and infrastructure is utterly inadequate for a major developed country.

If their team loses early in the tournament, then the Brazilians who have not protested yet will come unleash a wave of protest. So be watchful for the referees treating the host nation kindly.


                        How to Make Money Gambling on the World Cup

I never gamble.

I never make sports wagers.  You cannot do so and make the comments that I do about the market. It is not fair for anyone, so I have to remain outside of the gambling market except as a disinterested spectator.

However, I will give this tip away to any uninformed sports gambler [btw – be careful, if you do not know what I am about to say, then you should probably not be gambling].

Want to make money on the gambling market?

Bet against England.

The gambling market is not the amalgam of perfect knowledge that free market loonies claim it to be.  The gambling market is actually an amalgamation of sentiment, emotion, hopes, dreams and greed.

Much of the regulated part of the sports gambling market is run by large English bookmaking companies – William Hill, Ladbrokes, etc.  Most of their punters are English.  Many of them make bets with their hearts rather than cold, clear logic.

There is always a bias in favour of the English football team in the market  – so long term bet against the English and you will win.


                             Robert Hoyzer is a hero

Robert Hoyzer is a hero.  His essential role in the match-fixing world has been profoundly misunderstood. I write this because he is, yet again, in the news.  The poor fellow has just gotten a job as technical director of a semi-professional German team.

The media has taken the opportunity to lambaste Hoyzer – yet again.

Here is the true story.  In 2004, Hoyzer like hundreds of other referees, players, coaches and senior football officials agreed to take a bribe from the Sapina brothers to fix a series of matches as a referee.

Six months later, the German authorities began a half-hearted investigation.   Hoyzer, along with a number of other referees was interviewed.  They all denied everything.  Case closed.   Except it was not – because Hoyzer went home, had a long, heartfelt think, talked to his flight attendant girlfriend – and then went back to the authorities and confessed everything.

Essentially, Hoyzer said, “There is a network of fixing that extends across European football. It is concentrated in the lower leagues, but there are a high-level matches including Champions League games that have been tarnished.  I will serve as a prosecution witness and, if necessary, your informant and we will clean up football properly.”

“Ha! Sucker!” is essentially what the German authorities said back.  They ignored almost all of his story, focused their investigation only on him and chucked poor Hoyzer into jail (his girlfriend also left).  Then they went about organizing a World Cup that was a great success, except there were a bunch of fixers wandering about approaching players to fix games (see The Fix) and their league remained stuffed with fixed matches and corrupted players and referees for another five years until the Bochum Boys – the Organized Crime Task Force stepped in and did a proper investigation and showed that pretty much everything that Robert Hoyzer had originally said was true.

So please let us leave Robert Hoyzer alone.

Nigerian Goalkeeper video:

Next Blog:            Martin Jol’s Lasagne and Who will the World Cup

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