The Athletic Says Sportsbooks Alerted IBIA of Arsenal Yellow Card Controversy

The controversy surrounding an unnamed Arsenal FC player continues as The Athletic has brought new information to light. The media, which reported on the case last week, talked about suspicious betting activity that focused on one of one Arsenal player. A total of $420,000 (£310,000) had been bet on him getting a yellow card, which one player did after what was an unusual behavior that prompted the referee to book the player. However, the reports did not detail what game or month the offense was referring to.

Sportsbooks Tip the International Betting Integrity Association 

The Football Association has confirmed that it’s “looking into” the case but has not opened a formal investigation into the matter. A sportsbook based outside the United Kingdom flagged the issue. The company submitted an alert for a suspicious betting activity to the International Betting Integrity Association, The Athletic revealed in its latest reporting. 

The email exchange details a transfer to the tune of $420,000 in the form of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency use has raised further concerns about the wagers on that specific outcome as blockchain private tokens are arguably harder to trace back to individuals. 

Meanwhile, sources within the industry cited by The Sun have described this behavior as “highly unusual,” pointing out the fact that predicting a yellow card and then spending a lot on that player without any prior history of similar offenses is not a good betting strategy in general.

While one name has been floated who the player involved in the potential match-fixing might be, there has been no confirmation that he was indeed the offending party. The Athletic has not reported anything on the Gunners, which is the colloquial name for Arsenal FC, opening a probe into the player either. 

Spot Betting Plagues Professional Sport

However, “spot betting” is the practice of betting on one individual outcome of athletic contests. This allows match-fixers to focus on cashing in without necessarily disrupting the entire game and thus hoping to remain under the radar.

Sportsbooks, though, have a personal stake in keeping sports clean as it costs them dearly. Flagging such events is a way to tackle the fraud, but the sports community still has a lot to do to tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, Arsenal players to have received the most yellow cards in the season Albert Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka, with four each. Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, and Rob Holding have two each as well at the time of reporting. If Arsenal finds evidence that one of its players was intentionally fixing games, that would be a blow to the club’s reputation. 

Similar controversies have rocked English soccer in the past. In December 2020, the FA accused Kieran Trippier of breaching rules on gambling and received a $95,000 fine. 

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