Online bookmakers have been caught accepting wagers on yet another ‘phantom’ football match. On Feb. 3, an alleged friendly match between two Belarusian premier league clubs, Shakhtyor Salihorsk and Slutsk, took place at the Wave stadium in Pinsk. The match was reportedly won by Slutsk by a score of 2:1.
Except the match never took place. Reviews of the match appeared on the official website of the Salihorsk ‘Miners’ (see screenshot), indicating that Salihorsk opened the scoring in the first half but fell victim to two late Slutsk goals. The review has since been deleted and the site’s press secretary informed Belarusian media outlet Pressball that its website had been hacked.
BookmakersRating.ru reported that bets were accepted on the game at sites including Bet365, SBOBET, 188Bet, BetVictor, Dafabet and Unibet. Amounts wagered on the match are probably minimal, but it appears likely that somebody earned a decent payday out of this elaborate pantomime.
This is but the most recent example of bookies and real-time sports data providers being fooled by phantom football matches. Last August, numerous bookies were forced to void bets on a match between Spanish second division team Ponferradina and Portugal’s Freamunde after it was revealed that the game in question was a pick-up game between friends, allegedly clad in the “correct team colors.” A similar incident occurred a year ago in Armenia involving the Ulysses and Gandzasar clubs, forcing local bookies Vivaro and TotoGaming to suspend wagering.
This latest incident will put even more pressure on bookmakers and data providers to either pay closer attention to or stop offering odds altogether on matches – of all sports – that don’t garner the same media spotlight as the English Premier League or other top-ranked organizations.