The World Cup is taking extra measures to crack down on and punish cheating—relying on tracking companies to discover irregular or fixed games.
- The 2022 FIFA World Cup is currently taking place between November 20 and December 18 in Qatar.
- Sports betting is a major industry surrounding the largest annual soccer event in the world—with more than $160 billion expected to change hands during the event.
- FIFA has partnered with Swiss sports data company Sportradar to prevent match-fixing and cheating. It already reports to have identified 700 matches in 2022 that have been interfered by sports players or officials, Forbes reports.
- Match-fixing is a form of cheating that relies on inside information or internal manipulation to achieve the desired outcome. Sportradar says the practice is becoming more common over time and more effort is needed to crack down on it.
Why it’s Important
Match-fixing is a regular occurrence in soccer and the league isn’t just relying on Sportradar to catch potential instances of it during the current World Cup. FIFA is taking the possibility of cheating seriously and has conscripted multiple government agencies around the world including the FBI, Interpol, and the International Betting Integrity Association to monitor all 64 of its games.
“Match-fixing may seem outlandish and far-fetched, but it isn’t. At least one player currently in the World Cup has been accused of manipulating a regular season match,” says Forbes.
The practice is seriously punished in instances when it is discovered. Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey received a lifetime ban after being caught with “irregular” movements in a 2018 World Cup qualifier game. German referee Robert Hoyzer was sentenced to more than two years in prison for a 2005 rigging scandal. And 15 Austrians were arrested this year for fixing 19 games between 2019 and 2021, Forbes reports.
Sportradar operates a global team of 60 people and uses A.I. and algorithm technologies to search for odd patterns such as unusual spikes in betting. It knows match-fixing is in progress when an unusual number of bets are made on a specific game and it can even predict winners.
“Match-fixing is not about a player or a ref throwing an entire game. It’s more nuanced. These days, most match-fixing scandals are about fixing a quarter or the point spread,” says Forbes.