The Dark History of Sports Match-Fixing

It seems incredible that athletes at the peak of their careers would jeopardize their reputations by fixing matches for bribes or gambling profits. But it happens more often than we realise. From football to basketball, cricket, and esports, sporting icons have been accused of betraying their sport for a quick buck. Here are 25 shocking stories about match fixing in sports.

  1. 1994: Arizona State Basketball Point Shaving

The 1994 Arizona State University (ASU) basketball team was at the center of a significant point-shaving scandal. Point shaving involves fixing a game so that one team wins by a specified number of points, benefiting bettors who backed the winning team. Stevin "Hedake" Smith, an ASU team member, accepted an offer to fix games after getting into debt. Smith, who once had a promising NBA career, has since drifted into obscurity.

  1. 1919: Chicago Black Sox Scandal

In the 1919 World Series, eight members of the Chicago Black Sox baseball team were accused of throwing games as the Cincinnati Reds won the pennant. The Black Sox player with the highest profile was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. The scandal resulted in the eight players being banned from the sport and the dissolution of the National Baseball Commission.

  1. 1978 FIFA World Cup: Argentina vs Peru

In the 1978 FIFA World Cup, host nation Argentina needed to beat Peru by four clear goals to advance to the knockout stages. Argentina won 6-0, and speculation arose about whether the Peruvians had thrown the game. 34 years later, Peruvian Senator Genaro Ledesma revealed that the result had been agreed upon in advance by the two countries' dictatorships.

  1. 2023: Chinese Snooker Bans

Snooker has had occasional issues with match-fixing, but a recent ban on ten players shocked the sport. Included in the group were champions Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong. Aside from game manipulation, players were found guilty of betting violations and approaching other players to cheat. In June 2023, the Chinese governing body handed out stricter punishments to some of those involved.

  1. 2012: Stephen Lee's Snooker Ban

Former Scottish Open winner Stephen Lee had been suspected of match-fixing since 2010, following unusual betting patterns on a game at the 2009 UK Championship. Several cases were eventually proved, and the player received charges in 2013. Lee received a 12-year ban from Snooker, backdated to 2012.

  1. 2010: Spiked Water Bottles and a Fixed Soccer Match

Cremonese goalkeeper Marco Paolini fixed a soccer match in 2010 to pay off his gambling debts. Paolini spiked his teammates' water bottles, making them feel lethargic. An investigation proved that Paolini had spiked his teammates' water bottles, making them feel lethargic.

  1. 1990s: Hansie Cronje Match Fixing Scandal

Cricket's most notorious match-fixing affair centred around famous South African captain Hansie Cronje. In the 1990s, Cronje and some teammates accepted bribes to underperform in games. The scandal exploded in 2000 in the fifth test match at Centurion. Heavy rain meant the game was destined for a draw when Cronje contrived a result by declaring and setting England a revised target. It was all a part of a significant betting scam. Cronje's career ended in disgrace.

  1. 2012: The Great Handball Scandal

Handball is a popular sport across mainland Europe, and it's been relatively clean throughout its history. One notable exception is the 2012 scandal involving players from the French club Montpellier. Sixteen individuals were found guilty and suspended for fixing a game against Cesson in May 2012.

  1. 2005: German Soccer Referee Takes a Bribe

German referee Robert Hoyzer admitted to fixing four matches in 2005. He acted on the orders of Croatian gambler Ante Sapina and awarded controversial penalties and red cards to ensure the matches went his way. Hoyzer received €67,000 from Sapina and a TV, among reports that he fixed around 23 games.

  1. 2012: Olympic Boxing Scandal

Speculation surrounds a fight at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Reports claim that Azerbaijan was promised medals in the ring, Magomed Abdulhamidov defeated Satoshi Shimizu of Japan. The issue was that Abdulhamidov went down five times. Under the rules, Shimizu should have won the contest, but the referee asked the Azerbaijan fighter to stand up.

  1. 2018: Kicker Kicked Out


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