Former English footballer Moses Swaibu spoke to the Associated Press and discussed his experience with match-fixing, after having served a prison sentence over it.
Moses Swaibu’s Recovery Story Inspires Others
In an interview with the Associated Press, Moses Swaibu, a former English footballer, made an appeal to Premier League players not to get involved with match-fixing. And, as someone who was jailed over match-fixing, he speaks from experience.
The former Lincoln City F.C. player appeared in 165 league matches and scored four goals. In 2015, he was convicted in a match-fixing scandal dating back to 2013 and sentenced to serve 16 months in prison.
He now shares his experience in prison, emphasizing on the lack of freedom and being told what to do 24 hours a day. Swaibu is already a strong advocate against match-fixing and he is participating in various programs designed to educate newer generations of players how to stay away from match-fixing, the ramifications of which can be very serious.
Awareness campaigns have been a strong part of tackling fixing games recently, with clubs, league bodies and regulators leveraging technology, provided by leaders such as Sportradar, but also relying on educating players.
During his talks, Swaibu opens up about his experience participating in match-fixing and attempts to bribe lower-league players in England that led to his conviction and arrest, along with Delroy Facey, a Bolton striker.
A Call to a Hotel Room
Swaibu’s problems began with Facey. One night he went to his hotel room and was introduced – along with other players – to people he described as “match-fixers.” They were asked to throw a game. The players promptly turned down the offer and left.
Swaibu hesitated. He said that Facey’s efforts to rig the game were like “cancer,” and investigators later established that Facey was trying to develop a much wider network of corrupt players willing to throw games.
Expectedly, match-fixers target lower-tier players, because they are easier to buy and convert to loyal members in their organizations, looking ultimately to undermine football, said National Crime Agency officer Adrian Hansford cited by the Associated Press.
Swaibu was contrite about the choices he made, but he also pointed out to another problem –the lack of adequate pay. Talking about himself at the time, Swaibu had this to say:
“A lot of people probably couldn’t understand what I was going through. I was faced with a lack of payment, bad relationships with managers, traveling up and down the country, not knowing when I’m getting paid, not knowing how I’m going to pay my bills. There are so many variables that go into when you actually make any type of decision.”
Fixers Will Target Vulnerable Players
Fixers are no random people, says Swaibu. They know your weaknesses, the former footballer adds, and they will know that you have a gambling problem or that you put bets yourself. They will then reach out using social media and act furtively at first.
You may think you are getting a friend, Swaibu explained, but one day that friend would ask you if you ever considered getting a yellow or a red card. The fixers are smart, too. They don’t expect you to participate in anything illegal, Swaibu explains, adding that they may pay you up to £1,000 to just show up at a meeting of unspecified nature.
That, he says, isn’t illegal, but it’s already dangerous enough to raise red flags. Accepting to be part of that could lead to a career-ending development or even a prison sentence. While Swaibu may never play again, he is welcomed by all big teams and asked to deliver salutary lessons to younger generations of footballers.
His story should serve as a fair warning to up-and-coming players.