Football’s international governing body, FIFA, has issued more bans of players and officials from world soccer for their involvement in match-fixing. The latest count saw more than 100 players and officials from Italy, China, and South Korea, all of whom received bans of varying lengths, including over 40 who were meted with lifetime bans.
FIFA’s ban on these individuals stemmed from charges involving “match-fixing (direct involvement or omission to report match-fixing), illegal betting or corrupt organization (association to commit illicit acts).”
A few days ago, FIFA extended bans on 58 people in China who were found guilty of match-fixing . Of the 58, 33 were booted out of the game for life, one of which was Lu Jun, a referee who worked the 2002 World Cup. The governing body also added four new South Korean cases of match-fixing to the growing list of cases that already saw over 50 individuals sanctioned for their involvement in the crime.
In another development, Slovenian Admir Suljic, an alleged associate of Singaporean businessman and suspected ringleader Tan Seet Eng, was arrested by Italian authorities after arriving in Milan on a flight from Singapore. Tan, who also goes by the name Dan Tan, is accused of heading an elaborate crime syndicate that has made its trade by fixing football matches around the world.
If there’s one country that appears to have kept the game clean despite in its jurisdiction despite the growing number of cases all around it, it’s France. That much was announced by Michael Rauschenbach, head of Serious and Organised Crime at Europol who responded to an inquiry by LFP president Frederic Thiriez asking if in any French matches were implicated in the 680 suspicious games Europol identified as having been rigged. In a letter published on the French league website, Rauschenbach replied said: “I am pleased to tell you that France is not one of the host countries of matches suspected to have been fixed.”
It’s worth noting that despite the prevalence of match-fixing in the sport, the length and seriousness by which FIFA and all the national sanctioning bodies of football are treating this scandal is a positive sign that more and more steps are being done to fix the sport and prevent things like this from happening. Understandably, it’s an uphill battle that’ll probably take years to see come to fruition, but the aggressiveness and steadfast demeanor by which it’s being tackled is reassuring for those who love the sport and love betting on it.