What you need to know:
- In Kenya, match-fixers have been having a field day for a while, but especially since the pandemic broke out
- There is no agency to fight all corruption in sport, leave alone this phenomenon that generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year
- FKF, Fifa and Interpol should work with these operators to figure out a way of flagging suspicious activity
Match fixing is proving hard to cure, and that spells big trouble for a country fast running out of excuses for why the sporting industry is collapsing.
In Kenya, match-fixers have been having a field day for a while, but especially since the pandemic broke out. It is for this reason that on Tuesday, parliamentarians promised to push for the enactment of a law criminalising the vice.
Now that the door has been flung open, the next step is advancement. Criminalising match fixing is okay, but it points to a bigger problem. There is no agency to fight all corruption in sport, leave alone this phenomenon that generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Has anyone ever thought of a world sports anti-corruption body?
By virtue of circulating within local sports circles, I’ve seen enough to know match fixing is not something to be eradicated.
Where money flows, corruption often follows. As long as there is sports, there will be sports betting. And as long as there is betting…I don’t need to complete that sentence. The goal should be to ensure that the cases remain as few as possible.
As we formulate laws to tackle this epidemic locally, we need and must widen our scope. Football Kenya Federation cannot handle this battle on their own and win, and neither can the Kenyan government. I dare say, even Fifa itself.
The first solution to this menace is simple, but most difficult to implement. Keep the players happy. Kenyan footballers make as little as Sh30,000 a month, and that money is never guaranteed to come on time. Naturally, this becomes an avenue that fixers can use as incentive to lure the players.
The second intervention, which should have been first, would be to sort out internal leadership issues. A corrupt body cannot stop corruption.
To eradicate match-fixing, all sports federations must clean up shop, starting with Fifa, because according to research, football remains the sport most susceptible to match-fixing, although recently there has been a spike in the vice in eSports.
Collaboration with other authorities should also be considered. Most of those who are behind match-fixing, including the few that have been arrested on Kenyan soil, are usually linked to organised crime. Illegal bookmakers have a network of fixers all over the world.
It is very possible for a match-fixing syndicate to be based in South America, corrupting players in Africa, while working with bookmakers in Asia.
To catch fixers, we need to use diverse, cross border methods which include Interpol expertise, phone-tapping, prosecutions and trials.
It goes without saying that betting companies must be held responsible. FKF, Fifa and Interpol should work with these operators to figure out a way of flagging suspicious activity.
Match-fixers use many tricks to thrive, but most of them make their money primarily through the betting market.
Lastly, is technology use. Fixers are getting smarter methods of doing their dirty job, and only a method that incorporates use of technology can beat them at their game.