Corruption in Sport

Sports Corruption

ONE OF THE WIDELY-PERCEIVED advantages sports betting has over punting on horses and dogs concerns the issue of integrity.

Put simply, many people believe sport is less open to corruption than racing.

There are others who vehemently oppose this view. "I would much rather bet on a dumb animal," they say. But the idea that because horses and greyhounds do not have the capacity to manipulate results by themselves it must make those sports more trustworthy betting mediums than, say, a tennis match between two humans who could, if they so desired, conjure up a pre-determined result holds no water.

That is not to suggest racing involving thoroughbreds or greyhounds is rotten to the core by any means. But the basic fact is that both are organised for the specific purpose of stimulating gambling which, in itself, has to leave them open to corrupt influences from those seeking to profit from rule-bending.

Other sports have become what they are today for a different reason - the fundamental desire of one human or group of humans to test themselves against their fellow man.

Football is all about many things, according to those who spout its many clichés. It's all about the three points, it's all about winning, it's all about opinions, it's all about entertaining the fans. What nobody ever says is: "It's all about landing an almighty touch with the bookies."

The fact that football betting, and betting on a wide variety of other sports for that matter, has become so popular is partly because those who bet on it feel comfortable in the knowledge that everyone on the pitch is trying his hardest.

In horseracing, by contrast, a large proportion of the public swallow the popular theory that there is something innately fishy about it. That view is largely borne out of ignorance and a sense of suspicion that comes from backing too many losers, but it exists all the same.

It is tiresome to hear people who blindly defend racing's integrity. Yes, the sport is probably far less corrupt than the man on the street might suspect, but those who make their livelihood in the racing industry should stop and ask themselves whether something untoward has actually taken place before automatically jumping to its defence every time a whiff of skullduggery wafts across the sport.

Corruption in sport is notoriously hard to prove, and that applies as much to racing as to table tennis, but almost everybody who has spent a meaningful period of time working in the betting industry will have little doubt that compared to horse and dog racing other sports are, to a greater or lesser degree, far less tainted by corruption.

That is not to say, of course, that incidents of betting-related cheating in sports have not taken place.

You would have to have walked this earth with a blindfold and earplugs for the past 15 years to avoid coverage of high-profile cases of sporting skullduggery, the common factor in which has been a desire to take the bookies to the cleaners.