A day after former Southampton football player Claus Lundekvam admitted to spot betting on Premier League games, FIFA is immediately taking action to look into Lundekvam’s damning betting claims. The world football governing body launched a probe amidst what could potentially be another damaging match-fixing scandal that tarnishes the sport.
As we reported yesterday, Lundekvam admitted to players making thousands of pounds “spot betting” on games during his time in England between 1996 and 2008. These instances of ‘spot betting’ involved fixing various prop bets, including the first throw-in, first corner, and first to get a booking. Lundekvam
“For a while we did this almost every week,” Lundekvam said with the comments being first published by Norwegian website VG.
“We made a fair bit of money. We could make deals with the opposing captain about, for example, betting on the first throw, the first corner, who started with the ball, a yellow card or a penalty. Those were the sorts of thing we had influence over.”
Lundekvam’s comments immediately raised the alarm of FIFA, who according to the Sun, now have officials looking into these claims with the seriousness for which it deserves. The football governing body has yet to divulge information on the investigation, only saying that the matter is currently being looked at. “[FIFA] is monitoring this issue and has involved its chief investigator in England,” the bureau said, as quoted by the Sun.
“Once all the information is known, it will be decided who is to lead the overall investigation.”
As if to douse the maelstrom of negative publicity headed his way, the retired 39-year old did explain that those bets were done merely for fun and never put into question the results of the matches. “The results were never on the agenda,” he said.
“That is something I would never have done. We were professional competitors. Even though what we did, of course, was illegal, it was just a fun thing.”
As if that’s going to make much of a difference.
Lundekvam’s former teammates immediately took to action in distancing themselves from their old teammates’ admission. In an interview with the BBC, former Southampton captain Francis Benali denied ever knowing of any spot betting occurring during his stint with the team. “I can say categorically I have no knowledge of the betting allegations made by Claus,” he said. One-time Southampton boss Dave Bassett also commented on these allegations, telling the Sun that “I never saw the players all happy after a game because they’d won a few bob on the first corner” and imploring his former player to “have the proof to back [the betting claims] up.”
While match-fixing scandals are nothing new in the sport of the football, it clearly is a big problem that has become even more public with the increasing number of incidences being reported. Recently, Turkish courts convicted Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildrim to six years and three months in prison on match-fixing charges. In addition, a number of football leagues in Turkey, Greece, Finland, Israel, and Italy have all had to deal with match-fixing allegations in their respective leagues.
Now, IF Lundekvam’s claims – and it’s still a big IF at this point – have any grain of truth to them, England’s Premier League will be dragged into the same damning predicament.