Cheating in Sports. The new norm?
I was watching a recent football match, and at a point in the game, one of the players made an absolutely blatant dive in the penalty area to which I found myself thinking “Shocking. So much cheating in the game these days.” Then I remembered that this player’s team was one of the teams I had backed to win on my weekly flutter, and my tone changed completely. “PENALTY!” was now the only thing running through my mind.
It got me to thinking how much players, not just footballers athletes in general, are willing to cheat in order to win their respective games/competitions. Maybe they cheat for money or maybe they cheat just out of a die-hard passion for their sport and their team, but at the end of the day, it’s still cheating.
I decided to have a look at 4 high profile cases of cheating in sports that were specifically for financial gain.
1. “Calciopoli” – The Italian Match Fixing Scandal
In 2006 Italian and even European football was rocked by allegations that several clubs in the Italian top division, Serie A, had been involved in allegedly fixing several matches over the last couple of seasons. The claims were that several top teams including champions Juventus had created an arrangement between the clubs in question, their staff and even match officials.
Footballing giants AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina as well as the aforementioned Juventus were accused of creating this network of ‘mutual benefit’ in order to select certain referees for certain games. These accusations came into place after investigations by prosecutors looking into Italian football as a whole came across transcripts of recorded telephone conversations between the clubs and managers in question, and they had no plausible defence against them. Most likely because they were guilty.
Juventus were stripped of their champions title for that season and the preceding campaign, were relegated to the second division AND had to begin their season with a 30 point penalty. Fiorentina and Lazio were also demoted, but with a lesser points deduction for each club. AC Milan, while not demoted, had to begin the next Serie A season with a 15 point penalty. All in all 37 people were charged along with former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi
Obviously their burning desire to win these games made them switch from playing football to playing Monopoly instead.
2. Sam Sodje Supports Shady Suborning Stunts
Last year, it came to light that these match fixing activities were a lot closer to home than we had originally thought. Ex English Premiership player with Reading, Sam Sodje, had not only been accepting bribes to influence the outcomes of matches, but had actually started his own little ring of corruption.
The full Nigerian international was caught on camera by an undercover reporter taking bribes for gaining a booking or a sending off at certain parts of a game. Not only this, but later on in the video another professional footballer, Cristian Montano of Oldham Athletic, admitted that he tried to get a booking, presumably for a bribe, but had failed in his task, and that he was very sorry. Poor guy.
Sodje was clearly the ringmaster in this endeavour, as in the video he says that he can “a hundred percent” make sure another player is booked during the last 10 minutes of a game. If that wasn’t enough, then the fact that Sodje’s brother Stephen was also held by police due to the incidents. And if THAT wasn’t enough, Sodje’s other brother Akpo, also a professional footballer, was also caught on camera discussing taking bribes for spot fixing.
Perhaps the Sodjes should move to Italy and start a business with Luciano Moggi, I hear that he’s looking for a new job.
3. The Year that Cricket Was Actually Interesting
2010 was supposed to be a good year for cricket, with the 20/20 World Cup and all. Expectations were cautiously optimistic. But that wasn’t to be! Three key players from the acclaimed Pakistan national team: Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir made sure of this.
These players (allegedly among others) were in cahoots with a chap named Mazhar Majeed, who was apparently a ‘fixer’ in the cricket world. A reporter from the News of the World caught wind of these going ons and went undercover (don’t we just love undercover reporters?) in order to catch them.
And catch them he did! Majeed willingly accepted the money in order to fix certain details of an upcoming match, and the three players, Butt, Asif and Amir were all just as willing to go along with it. It turns out that not only were the conspiring to spot fix, but it is something they had done several times in the past. Later on arrests were made, people were charged and a whole lot of commotion happened in the world of cricket. The three players were given bans from cricket, but to an even more severe effect, they were all given jail time, including Majeed.
Just goes to show you that if you cheat in Cricket, you will end up somewhere where ‘the meat of the bat’ doesn’t have anything to do with cricket.
In 2009 Tom Williams playing for Harlequins suffered a quite nasty injury to his mouth, blood was pouring out, it all looked quite nasty. According to Rugby Union rules, Harlequins were permitted to bring on a temporary ‘blood replacement’, allowing them to bring on goal kicker Nick Evans (who had been substituted earlier) just in time for a late goal attempt. Now, if you’re thinking that this all sounds a bit coincidental and overly lucky…you’d be right!
Footage taken of the player leaving the field of play showed him winking towards the bench on his way off, and this raised some questions. It turns out that Williams had been asked by Harlequins Director of Rugby and former England forward Dean Richards to hide a blood capsule in his sock in case such an opportunity arose, in return for a hefty raise in his weekly wage. Williams panicked during the event and convinced the Harlequins doctor to actually cut his mouth for real, just in case anyone found out. Well Tom, everyone did find out, and now you’ve got a sore mouth to go with it.
Williams received a 12 month ban which was later reduced to 4 after he finally came clean about the whole incident and Richards received a three year ban after it came to light that he had previously been involved in similar incidents.
The best thing to come out of this whole farce is that Nick Evans missed the late goal attempt that the whole incident was built up to. Instant karma!
Do you think that cheating in sports today is becoming a bigger problem than it really should be? With talk of corruption reaching the highest levels, such as the Qatar 2022 World Cup, are there any sports or levels within said sports that aren’t susceptible?