Some 12% of athletes have played in a match that was fixed, while nearly 15% suspect they have, according to the findings of a European survey published by researchers at UL.
More than 600 took part in the match-fixing survey across six member states. Almost 15% said they were asked to fix a match within the last year with nearly 40% reporting that club officials were the most likely to instigate the illicit act.
The findings of the ‘Fix the Fixing’ project were by Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly who said, “Match-fixing is an international phenomenon often linked to criminal networks. Ireland is not immune to this threat which has rocked the very foundations on which sport is based.
“In Ireland, we are passionate about watching sport, perhaps more than we love doing it, and people won’t watch sports if they perceive them to be fixed. It is not knowing what will happen that makes sports attractive.”
Dr Deirdre O’Shea, who led the survey, said, “What surprised me most in carrying out this research was how vulnerable players are. In the opinions of the players surveyed, the strongest risk factor for why a person might fix a match was pressure from an individual in a position of power, the threat of violence against them or their family and financial difficulties.
At the launch, Director of Participation and Ethics at Sport Ireland, Dr Una May said: “Maintaining the positive values in sport, including integrity, is fundamental to increasing future participation.”
Fix the Fixing is an Erasmus+ funded project, which developed a new evidence-based, user-friendly educational tool. In the future, this online tool will be available to anyone involved in sports, education and policy-making, to help sports participants and other stakeholders recognise, resist and report match-fixing.
The national lead on the project Dr Tadhg MacIntyre, together with researcher Clare Murphy, conducted a series of focus groups with athletes and referees.“The knowledge gap we found was vast: Refs and players in professional sports had received mandatory training and could have written a textbook on the topic, whereas in other sports awareness of the rules was virtually non-existent.
“The online tool we produced is available in four languages and will help address this knowledge gap. It can assist sports bodies in educating their members about the consequences of even minor breaches of sporting integrity and how players may expose themselves to unnecessary risks”, Dr MacIntyre explained.
The next steps in the Fix the Fixing project include studying how to increase athlete autonomy and well-being, which will enable athletes to resist coercion, report incidents and ultimately buffer them from the threats of match-fixing.