The war on fixing is never won: Dermot Gallagher
Just a day after UEFA had to reprimand Arsenal starlet, Jack Wilshire, for jokingly tweeting he had placed a winning bet on teammate Emmanuel Frimpong to score a comes a much more hard hitting and worrying claim from ex-Southampton footballer, Claus Lundekvam.
Claims need to be taken seriously
The Norwegian press quotes him saying he was not proud and did it for fun although it did make him a fair amount of money. FIFA have already stated they intend to investigate. It's worth pointing out that other Southampton players have disputed Lundekvam's claims.
Nevertheless, as the game attempts to demontrate that it is squeaky clean it is not the message the authorities would have wanted to hear and these kind of stories do untold damage to the image of the brand and potential high-profile sponsors.
What might seem a 'bit of fun' to a player who has no intention to alter the result of a match can nevertheless be extremely serious indeed. Every decision has impact but to deliberately gain a yellow card or give away a penalty can have a huge influence on the outcome of the result.
From a referee's point of view, the question is obviously: How would you know? and what can you do? The answer is plain: You wouldn't and couldn't. If a player deliberately puts the ball out for a throw or corner you have to award such; if a player commits a foul warranting a yellow card or a penalty, again, the same applies.
We saw recently the cricket furore with no balls - the umpire again being powerless to do anything but award what he sees and the player's penalisation on the day being minimal. What followed in the courts wasn't quite so!
Whilst I'm not advocating similar punishment as I am not aware of the full facts or what sums of money were laid or paid or with whom but it is something that needs eradicating and eradicating immediately.
In 1995 I refereed in the U20 World Cup in Qatar. It was my first experience of gambling in football matches. The referees were warned of Asian betting syndicates and were given clear and concise guidelines should they be approached by anyone in relation to gambling on matches. It was quite spooky as I had never envisaged such a thing in the beautiful game.
Later in my career there were rumours of match fixing in the Premier League. Thirteen seconds into the second half at Selhurst Park between Wimbledon and Arsenal the lights went out and I was forced to abandon the match. Rumours spread like wildfire that it was a deliberate act as once the second half had kicked off, the 0-0 scoreline at the time stood for betting purposes.
It was during this period we had the infamous alleged match fixing cases involving some Premier League matches with Bruce Grobbelaar being accused of taking money from betting syndicates.
It was a problem that everyone thought had gone away and the Guardians of our Game had made clear was not acceptable. Players and referees alike are forbidden to gamble on matches - and quite rightly - this claim will send shockwaves around certain corridors. We can only hope these latest claims are investigated quickly, efficiently and if necessary the outcome sends out a message for the future to ensure we still believe fully in the match we are watching.
- Dermot Gallagher refereed more than 300 top flight games during his fourteen-year professional career