Sports bodies and sportsbooks worldwide have been sounding the alarm for a while now. The sport is in danger as criminals become more sophisticated in how they carry out their fraudulent activities. Still, the highest level of the world’s most popular athletic contests has been mostly safe, that is until now.
FA Works on the Reports Privately
The Football Association is now looking into reports that allege an anonymous Arsenal player may have been involved in spot-fixing. This is the type of match-fixing whereby an athlete is trying to influence a minor detail of the game, such as receiving a yellow card, ensuring that the criminal organizations behind the move benefit disproportionately from the unlikely event through betting agencies.
While the Athletic, which first reported the issue, did not name the Premier League soccer player, it specified that it was from the Gunners’ team. No formal investigation has been undertaken, though, which means that this is still purely speculative and based on reports of sportsbooks witnessing unusual betting behavior.
The FA did comment on the matter, though, and said: “FA is aware of the matter in question and is looking into it.” Match-fixing on a Premier League level would be very unusual for the sport as players undergo special training, soccer clubs have a serious obligation to clamp down on fraud internally, and the league issues severe penalties to offenders.
One Game in Particular Stands Out
Besides, there are millions, if not billions of eyeballs, on the Premier League, which makes it harder to fix an event. However, one possible game that could point to spot-fixing is the one that Arsenal played against Leeds on December 18, 2021.
Midfielder Granit Xhaka received a yellow card for stalling the ball for too long, with Betfair receiving $65,000 on the market. A free-kick was dragged out to the dismay of fellow players and the opponents. The referee did not hesitate and booked Xhaka.
However, there has been no confirmation that Xhaka or anyone else on Arsenal’s team may have been spot-fixing. For all we know, Xhaka was tired after a long game that resulted in four goals for Arsenal and one for Leeds. It’s possible that he was stalling to allow his teammates to rest up. Regardless, match-fixing is being addressed on the highest level of soccer.
Sportradar, a global integrity and sports data company, has been an outspoken proponent of bringing more stakeholders in the process of understanding how match-fixers carry it out. Players have been receiving training to avoid temptation and report such approaches instantly.