The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime

The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime

by Declan Hill


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780771041396
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication date: 04/13/2010
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,288,875
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Declan Hill is an investigative journalist and academic. He specializes in organized crime and international issues. In the last few years, he has completed documentaries on the killing of the head of the Canadian mafia, blood feuds in Kosovo, and ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Hill has also won awards for documentaries on honour killings in Turkey, and the murder of journalists in the Philippines. He was a Chevening Scholar at Green College, University of Oxford, and received his doctorate for his study of match-fixing in professional soccer.

Read an Excerpt

At first, I was interested in the general issue of organized crime in soccer. I was particularly fascinated with the concept of image laundering, where a previously unknown gangster takes over a prominent club or links himself with a famous player and begins to transform himself from a “controversial businessman” to a “colourful businessman” to, when his team or player wins the championship, a “member of the establishment.” The most successful proponent of this skill was Joseph Kennedy, who had gone from a bootlegging scumbag supplying the mob with liquor in the midst of Prohibition in one generation to being the father of the president of the United States in the next. However, events overtook me. Some of the top teams in Europe were bought up by people so corrupt that you would hesitate to have your wife, son, or wallet within a hundred yards of them. Yet no one seemed to have stopped them.

However, I began to become interested in the subject of match-fixing. It was, in the words of one worried tennis executive I spoke to, “the ultimate threat to the credibility of the sport.”

I visited some of the world’s most famous soccer stadiums, teams, and games to see organized criminals in action. I investigated leagues where Chinese triads have fixed more than 80 per cent of the games; and I found that top international referees often get offered, and accept, “female bribes” before they arbitrate some of the biggest games in soccer.

When I first started giving lectures at Oxford, people were surprised to hear about the connections between organized crime and sport. I gave presentations at international conferences. I said publicly, and at some risk to myself because my research was not finished, that European sport leagues were facing a tsunami of match-fixing by Asian criminals. Few people wanted to believe it. Even fewer people seemed to want to do anything about it. It was mostly, as I will show, out of incompetence and racist ignorance. It was also because the factors that have given rise to this new wave of fixing are unprecedented and have never really been seen or studied before. But it was in small part because of a phenomenon that was recognized more than eighty years ago. It was supposed to have occurred during the scandal surrounding the trial of baseball’s Chicago White Sox. The team threw the 1919 World Series with the help of mobster Arnold Rothstein. One of their players was the clean-cut star “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. As Jackson came up to the courthouse, a little boy was supposed to have elbowed his way through the crowd, gazed up at his hero with big, clear, innocent eyes, and said, “Say it ain’t so, Joe. Just say it ain’t so.” The little boy represents the faith that we embody in our sporting heroes. We do not want to believe that human frailty lurks within them. We do not want to believe that
they, who can do what we cannot, would stoop to sully themselves. We do not want to believe, when so much in our lives is so corrupt, that the garden of innocence that is supposed to be sport could also be corrupt.

In my journey I did find real heroes: people who have attempted to clean up the world’s “beautiful game.” They have, for the most part, been marginalized, stamped on, or silenced. Their stories are littered throughout this book: failed journalists, dead referees, ignored players. I will also introduce you to some of the fixers, criminals, and con men who corrupt the sport. Whenever possible I have tried to allow the criminals to speak for themselves, using verbatim transcripts of either their interviews or covertly recorded conversations. The work has, at times, been difficult and dangerous. For that reason, in some places in the text, I have changed the locations of the interviews and the names of both the innocent and the guilty. (The first time that I introduce someone whose name has been changed, I will place an asterisk beside it in the text.) I have done that to protect myself and my interview subjects from all the dangers that a reader can imagine.

I have also tried to show the results of my research at the university. Woven through the journey, I try to explain
how soccer players and referees actually perform in fixed games, the structure and mechanics of illegal gambling syndicates, why relatively rich and high-status athletes would fix games, why club officials decide to try to bribe the opposition, how clubs go about doing it, how they get referees “on their side” and how, I believe, Asian gambling fixers have successfully entered the game and fixed top international matches. I found that many of these underlying criminal mechanics are not only found in soccer. Really, the methods, manners, and motivations of the fixers could work for almost any other team sport, be it hockey, basketball, or baseball. Consequently, I have put in examples from other sports to show the similarities. Understand how gambling fixers work to corrupt a soccer game and you will understand how they move into a basketball league, a cricket tournament, or a tennis match (all places, by the way, that criminal fixers have moved into).

My views on soccer have changed. I still love the Saturday-morning game between amateurs: the camaraderie and the fresh smell of grass. But the professional game leaves me cold. I hope you will understand why after reading the book. I think you may never look at sport in the same way again.

Table of Contents

Note about Language IX

Preface to the Paperback Edition XI

Introduction: The Birds of Prey 1

Part I Asia: The Storm Clouds

Prologue 11

1 The Conquest of the Locusts 13

2 "What the Hell Do You Think You're Doing?" 24

3 Experts in Verbal Bullshit 34

4 Missing the Big Boys 45

5 Keeping the System Turning 54

6 The Mob, Trust, and Serious Reprimands 65

7 The Collapse of the Betting Line 75

Part II Europe: A Normal Way of Business

Prologue 89

8 The Arrival of the Locusts 91

9 The Golden Age 101

10 To Fix or Not to Fix? 115

11 How to Fix a Soccer Game 134

12 Sex and the Men in Black 151

13 The Guns are Facing the Wrong Way 172

14 No Point in Going Out There 179

Part III The World Cup

Prologue 193

15 The Story of Pal 196

16 Behind the Door 213

17 The Set-Up 226

18 A Small Town in Germany 233

19 The Gold Coast 252

20 I Swear, I'm Innocent 270

21 Who Guards the Guardians? 286

Epilogue: The Salvation of Soccer 302

Acknowledgements 315

Notes 318

Bibliography 369

Index 379

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The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
neufsta on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fantastic look into the world of illegal gambling and its threat to the integrity of sports. Declan Hill travels around the world trying to discover why people fix soccer games and how they do it. He uncovered some shocking truths that will make any sports fan cringe. Match fixing occurs around the world and there is virtually nothing that governments can do to stop it. I will never look at soccer the same way having read this book.
soccerdev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insightful and well-researched, shocking even if part of it is true: the role of the mafia and professional gambling syndicates play in fixing soccer matches around the world, including games at the highest level. Well written, and surely well-researched, given that Hill did his PhD on the same topic!
Simple_Sean More than 1 year ago
Author Declan Hill takes the reader on an unlikely journey into the minds and pockets of gamblers more than willing and able to fix soccer games the world over. While I myself have never been much of a soccer fan, just being a sports fan makes this a must read. Hill's proof of the fixes makes the reader wonder what else in the sporting world has been fixed? It brings into question the validity of all sporting events because Hill doesn't cover "just" soccer games, but Olympic and World Cup games as well - which one would think are "untouchable." But that's not so, and the proof is in these pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Hill presents the reader with an extremely well researched piece of investigative journalism. Through insightful interviewing of key "fixers", by going under cover and successfully infiltrating betting spheres of influence, and buttressed by a sound background in the statistical analysis of game results, the author presents us with a troubling reality; one that intuitively we probably knew was there all along, but somehow refused to face. Where there is money involved, power and corruption will follow. And, where there are piles of money... As a boy following my heroes in the professional sports world, I never once considered the possibility that the players were not giving it their all in order to win each and every match. (Just as my mates and I were doing in our own little ways.) But as age, experience, and presumeably wisdom increases, we come to see the world through less veiled eyes. Mr.Hill's work helps lift this veil and shows to us that as in all activities where power and money are paramount, corruption finds fertile ground. After reading "The Fix" one cannot help but view all professional sports with a slightly more sceptical eye. Mr.Hill's book ends on a hopeful note calling for a more heightened and vigilant surveillance of this creeping malevolence by the authorities (FIFA) who are apparently charged with this responsibility. All in all, this book was a thoroughly stimulating and provocative read. Dr. Darren Millington Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
echern77 More than 1 year ago
"The Fix" is an exceptional reading that opens your eyes to reality of any professional sport in any country in the World. The book is well organized, very easy to read, extremely insightful, and keeps you interested cover to cover. The author provides significant proof and detailed description of how match fixing is done, how people (players, referees, officials, gamblers...) are involved and certain results are achieved. The book is a real eye opener for those who believe that soccer is "pure and clean" sport without outside influence. Sadly enough FIFA, knowing that the problem of match fixing exists, does not apply any actions toward investigating the exisitng and even growing threat in sport corruption. It's very simple - too much money involved; TV contracts; sponsors; stadium tickets.... And this books shows it all! "The Fix" is a must read for any fan of Beautiful Game or a fan of any professional sport, since the concepts are the same. Yes, it's possible that you will not look at the sport the same way as before, and that you might be sceptical about some matches and team performances. I am. Bit, I still love soccer. And i still love watching it! The book opened my eyes on the sports corruption since i had no idea it was on a such a huge scale. Most of us know that these problems exist in South America and that some World Cup matches were fixed and certain teams were "guided" to the play-offs and even Finals, but the problems in Asia and Europe were new to me. I strongly recommend this book to all sports fans - read it, you'll be shocked by revelations!