Fifty-three soccer players are being investigated for possible betting rules violations and one sports integrity expert says it is the “tip of the iceberg,” according to a story by the BBC.
The UK media company obtained a report by the Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU) through a Freedom of Information request that chronicled 53 incidents of players betting on matches between Aug. 1, 2014 and Dec. 23, 2016.
The complaints were being investigated and were not yet proven true, but the organization added it was also looking into additional separate transgressions uncovered by its’ own investigators.
The SBIU was formed by the Gambling Commission in 2012 to probe complaints relating to illegal wagering by anyone associated with a team, not just athletes.
Pie Slice of Bigger Problem
The news of the inquiries comes two days after a reserve goalie and coach, Wayne Shaw of Sutton United, was seen eating a meat pie on the sidelines during a Football Association Cup Match against Arsenal.
The snack wasn’t the problem. The issue was a local betting company offered 8-1 odds against him munching it on the bench and Shaw had knowledge of the proposition.
While the nicknamed, “Roly-poly goalie” called it a stunt, he denied that he placed money on it.
“A few of the lads said to me earlier on, ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’ I said: ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on,’” he said to reporters after the match. “I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down. I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go.”
Shaw resigned from the team the following day, but continued to deny any wrongdoing.
‘There was no financial gain for myself or anyone I know, friends or family,” the 46-year-old told The Sun newspaper. “It was taken out of context, and it happened in the moment of the game. I wasn’t paid to do it, I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it. It wasn’t done for personal gain. Just something to remember, and it certainly is that now.”
Culture of Gambling
The FA’s rule on gambling states: A participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition.
But according to former Frome Town Manager Nick Bunyard, the problem is rampant. Bunyard was given a three-year ban and fined a little more than $11,000 in November after placing 45 bets against his own team.
“Because betting culture in football is so rife, you get dragged along because everyone is doing it,” Bunyard said. “You think, ‘No one else is getting caught, so why would I?'”
Which is exactly the mindset the FA wants to change.
“This betting rule change to encompass all aspects of world football provides a simple, clear and straightforward message to all participants concerned, on where the line is drawn,” Darren Bailey, the FA’s director of football governance and regulation told the BBC.
Managers and players who have been accused of betting violations
Lewis Smith East Thurrock
Martin Pilkington Ashton United
Martin Demichelis Manchester City
Jack Colback Newcastle
Kyle Lafferty Norwich City
Dean Brett Cowdenbeath
Nick Bunyard (Manager) Frome Town
Joey Barton Burnley
Wayne Shaw Sutton United