5 Stories about fixed matches in the history of football

Match-fixing and Simulation – Football is not rich only in beautiful combinations and brilliant goals. It is also rich in nasty deeds as well. Let’s take a look at 5 of them:

The shame of Marseille

marseille winning title

In May 1993, Marseille was very close to winning a fifth title. Cause for celebration appeared in the case of a victory over Valenciennes which would result in the national championship title. It so happened and Les Olympiens were jubilant. However, after the police found a fat envelope full of cash at Valenciennes’ striker Christophe Robert’s home garden and the player’s confession that directly implicated Marseille’s President Bernard Tapie in a bribe of himself and two more Vallenciennes players, the situation was reversed. Marseille did not only lose the title, but they were also taken out of the European Cup for the next season, they were banned from participating in the UEFA and Intercontinental Super Cups and Bernard Tapie was sent to prison where he stayed for eight months.

Brazilian football match-fixing scandal

One of the biggest scandals in the history of Brazilian football was discovered in 2005. Two referees – Edilson Pereira de Carvalho and Paulo Jose Danelon, were arrested by the police, interrogated, and under the pressure of irrefutable proof, they confessed to being bribed in order to ensure that the results of a number of key matches of the Campeonato Brasileiro had the required results of a set of certain “businessmen”. These were investors (who were not named) cooperating with two betting websites and consequently made millions out of the fixed match betting. A total of eleven matches were suspected as fixed and by court order they were annulled despite the efforts of the teams involved to revoke the decision.

British football betting scandal from 1915

This is probably if not the oldest, one of the oldest cases of match fixing. It involved the teams of  Manchester United and Liverpool and goes all the way back to 1915. Manchester was on the verge of relegation and desperately needed to win. Liverpool was in the middle of the board with nothing to look for. Players from both sides agreed to end the match with a Manchester Victory of 2-0. On top of it they placed bets on the result. The match was played on a Good Friday and indeed it ended with the agreed upon result. However, the performance on the field was such a dead giveaway that even the devout Manchester fans acknowledged the “unwillingness” of Liverpool to win the game.


Italian scandal “Calciopoli”

This is probably the most widespread case of match fixing in the history of football pending the judicial outcome of the “Coreopolis” scandal in Greece which will surpass it by far. It all started with the investigation of the consulting company GEA World S.p.A. The findings uncovered the involvement of top Italian clubs of both Serie A and Serie B in creating a vast network of selected referees and officials that would rig matches. These teams were: Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina. The investigation came to light with transcripts of recorded telephone conversations between managers, officials and organizations acquired by the police after a court order for lifting all legal injunctions on monitoring personal telephone conversations. 26 individuals were brought to justice along with the aforementioned teams which were punished with various punishments varying from fines, to loss of points on the board, to relegation to a lower category.

Bundesliga Scandal

A € 2 million football fraud was discovered in Germany in 2005 and sent shock waves to the entire German football infrastructure. Referee Robert Hoyzer admitted to rigging results in matches of the second and third leagues of Germany and the German Cup. His most efficient match fixing was on the game between Hamburg and Paderborn where he sent off Emile Mpenza and made calls for two ambivalent penalties. The original sentence called for a 29-month imprisonment but Hoyzer was released only a year after his incarceration.