The continuing threat to sporting integrity posed by match-fixing was laid bare by a Sportradar Integrity Services (SIS) report that detected a sharp rise in the number of suspicious sporting fixtures during 2021.
Publishing its Betting Corruption and Match-Fixing 2021 report, the Sportradar company spelled out the dangers posed by match-fixing, disclosing that the Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS) uncovered suspicious activity in 903 matches last year, across 10 sports and in 76 countries worldwide. These figures mark the highest numbers of suspicious activity since SIS was founded 17 years ago.
The report noted that the increase of suspicious activity in the realm of sporting integrity is coinciding with record levels of global sports betting turnover, undoubtedly boosted by the legalization across the US.
Sportradar figures estimated that the global sports betting turnover stood at $1.45tn during 2021, of which $165m was made from match-fixing betting profits.
Andreas Krannich, Managing Director, Sportradar Integrity Services, said: “There is no easy short-term solution to the match-fixing issue, and we’re likely to see similar numbers of suspicious matches in 2022, if not more.
“As the market has developed, the threat of match-fixing has evolved. Now, would-be corruptors take an increasingly direct approach to match-fixing and betting corruption, with athletes messaged directly via social media platforms.”
Soccer remains the sport with the most suspicious activity attached; 2021 saw a rate of one in every 201 matches deemed as suspicious with second and third-tier domestic leagues causing the biggest threat. Soccer was followed by esports with one in every 384 and basketball at one in 498 deemed as suspicious.
Reacting to the increase in match-fixing alerts, SIS worked with its global partners to highlight the importance of sporting integrity, dishing out 65 sanctions across 11 countries: 46 sporting sanctions, 15 criminal sanctions, and four sanctions that were both sporting and criminal.
Krannich added: “We can take what we observed in 2021 and ask ourselves as fans of sport, what lessons can we learn? At Sportradar, we believe in adopting a progressive approach to integrity protection, through bet monitoring and intelligence gathering.
“This has been proven to deliver sanctions against those involved in match-fixing. Preventative measures, such as educating athletes and stakeholders, are also crucially important in the long-term fight against match-fixing.”
SIS concluded its report by detailing that further increases in suspicious betting activity are expected during 2022, but that it will continue publishing regular reports to ‘raise awareness of the latest and most extensive data and trends’.