Expert urges 'careful' approach over fixing

British football's match-fixing controversy may not be as deep-rooted as is being predicted by some, according to a leading expert on the subject.

It was revealed on Monday that Blackburn Rovers' DJ Campbell had become the latest to be arrested as part of an operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) looking into allegations of illegal activity around matches in the UK.

He was one of six taken into custody on Sunday as part of a second investigation by the NCA after four men, including two Conference South players, were charged in a separate case last month.

And law professor Jack Anderson of Queen's University, Belfast, who has conducted research into gambling-led corruption in sport, told Perform he believes the cases reported in England so far do not yet constitute a crisis.

"The six arrests over the weekend seem to be individuals who spot-fixed for relatively small amounts," he said. "We're talking about £70,000 here and there on individual events in a match - be they getting themselves deliberately sent off or doing something else like that.

"You have to be careful to look at it in context. We have to find out first of all, is it just confined to individuals?"

On Sunday, a British national newspaper released footage of a player stating he had been paid to receive a red card in the past, but Anderson feels people should reserve judgement on other claims in the video until they have been backed up with evidence.

"At the weekend, it was a newspaper sting by The Sun on Sunday and they targeted one particular player who admitted to being sent off deliberately to make about £70,000," continued Anderson.

"But the player then said he 'could' fix Premier League games, he 'could' fix World Cup games.

"It sounds very, very serious, but we have yet to see if there's any substance to that.

"Some of these players are on short-term contracts - not all of them are as well-paid as the Premier League or Championship stars. Some of them are coming towards the end of their career and they may be tempted to spot-fix. You've got to be aware of that.

"There's a huge amount of money flowing around English football, and where there's a huge amount of money flowing around the place - and where you have huge amounts of betting revenue on that - you're going to get elements of this (players being tempted to spot-fix)."

But Anderson feels the Football Association and other authorities are conscious of spot-fixing cases in the game, and that the measures in place can cope with the issue.

"They're very well aware of it," he added. "They've always been aware of it.

"Football has been dealing with this for a very long time and they have had a very good model on attempting to prevent this.

"Certainly what happened at the weekend will concentrate minds.

"There's no doubt there's the basis for a good model and I think the slightly old-fashioned attitude that English football is above this has been shown to be exactly that - old-fashioned.

"The key to it is not regulations coming from some boardroom, it's what goes on in the bootroom and what goes on educating young players of the dangers of fixing matches, which can lead to long-term suspension."


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