By Nick Harris
26 March 2010
(NB: Story update on 27 March at the bottom).
Anti-corruption investigators will be paying close attention to four particular matches in Italy’s Serie B this weekend after betting was suspended by most bookmakers earlier today on two games amid rumours of fixed draws, while betting on two further games is being closely monitored after abnormal activity.
The development comes the day after sportingintelligence revealed that Uefa is investigating four recent matches in Italy in the belief that some of the results were fixed.
The games giving greatest cause for concern this weekend are Modena v Piacenza and Triestina v Padova, both scheduled for tomorrow. Betting has been widely suspended on both games after “irregular” weights of money on the draw in each case.
The online exchange Betfair is continuing to trade, as is its policy; its rationale is that Betfair makes its data available to investigating bodies with which it has memorandums of understanding, including Uefa, as and when asked.
The fact the Betfair continues to trade allows a glimpse at how strange the markets for tomorrow’s game have become. Typically on Betfair, a Serie B game will attract anything from a few pounds in total (literally, one of this weekend’s games has had £8 bet on it at the time of writing), to a few thousand pounds.
Bt 1pm today, on Betfair alone, £97,474 had been matched on the Modena-Piacenza game, with the vast majority of that sum on the draw. That outcome is now odds-on whereas it would normally be no shorter than 2-1. The volume at the time of writing on Triestina-Padova is £60,723 in total on Betfair, of which £60,515 has been placed on the draw, also now odds-on.
The two further games under scrutiny are Albinoleffe v Brescia, and on Sunday Reggina v Torino.
“Maybe we’re just being twitchy because of what happened last weekend,” said a source at a bookmaker that has suspended betting on two Serie B games for tomorrow. Last weekend Chievo and Catania drew 1-1 in a match that had had some £2m placed on the draw, a lot of it on 1-1, up to five days before it happened.
Another source said: “It’s just the normal Italian end-of-season stuff. Everyone knows it’s always happened, results that suit both sides in certain situations.”
The major private concern at Uefa is that large sums from new sources in Asia now seem to be piling onto some of these games, indicating encroachment on a typically European form of corruption – one largely accepted, historically – by gambling rings with an appetite for more extensive fixing. Asian match-fixers have ruined the integrity of many of the football leagues in that continent at some point in the past couple of decades.
Update on Saturday after three of the four games have been played: Under the scrutiny of officials, Modena lost 1-0 to Piacenza, Triestina won 2-1 against Padova, and Albinoleffe drew 1-1 with Brescia.