Author Declan Hill argues that without major changes to security and enforcement, the game of soccer will be forever damaged by criminals’ efforts to fix games around the world. Bill Littlefield shares his thoughts on The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime.
Much of the soccer Declan Hill discusses in his new book took place in Asian leagues. Much of the crime to which he refers is less organized than one might think. The most notorious alleged fixers with whom Hill associates hold their secret planning meetings at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Bangkok.
On the other hand, Hill makes a case for diligence on the part of FIFA and the various other organizations involved in policing the game. He finds that two of the women on the team from Ghana at the 2007 Women’s World Cup were approached by gamblers seeking to insure that their team would lose to Norway by at least five goals. He learns that FIFA turned the matter over to Chinese authorities, who merely put those who attempted the fix on a train out of town. He speaks to a former assistant coach for one of the youth teams in Ghana who claims to have helped fix several international matches. Hill also rehashes stories of lower level Italian teams that have conspired in the past to manipulate games in which one team would have faced relegation had it not gained a point or three – a practice that some would regard as business as usual rather than fixing.
Declan Hill’s contention is that the gamblers who have destroyed whatever confidence fans once had in lesser soccer leagues in Asia will inevitably move on to the big time in Europe. In case he’s right, FIFA should probably pay more attention to that possibility than they have to this point.