Football, the so-called beautiful game is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Earlier in 2013 a covert sting uncovered a global match-fixing ring. With big money at stake many worried that the corruption may run deep, and now it appears that it does.
BBC Sport reports Tuesday:
Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is being investigated for match-fixing, Associated Press reports.
Four other people have been detained in connection with the alleged fixing of matches in Serie A three seasons ago.
Ex-Rangers star Gattuso, 35, is retired and was sacked by Serie B side Palermo after just six league games as manager.
During 13 years playing for AC Milan the midfielder stacked up a host of wins including two Champions League crowns, plus played in the 2006 World Cup with Italy in Germany.
Now he is under investigation fans will wonder if he really deserved those wins or if he was playing to satisfy other paymasters.
Monday former England striker Michael Owen played down allegations of match-fixing that have seen six players arrested, reports the Daily Mirror.
Premiership striker DJ Campbell was arrested earlier but Owen still refuted match fixing claims insisting that required all 22 players taking part.
Early in December undercover footage of another football player, Sam Sodje, appeared to show players willing to incite a red card (meaning a send-off) for a price of course.
Betting syndicates in the far-east were calling the shots. Punters can bet on who will win a match but these days they can also bet on who could be awarded a red-card, get a penalty kick and more.
The British National Crime Agency (NCA) acted after ex-Premier League footballer Sam Sodje, a 34-year-old Nigerian defender who had played for Portsmouth and Reading, was filmed bragging that he could arrange for professional footballers to get yellow cards or even red ones in return for cash -- yellow cards for £30,000, red for £50,000.
Sodje claimed he could make certain things happen during a match, if the price was right. In a newspaper sting he was caught on film. Footage was handed to the NCA by the Sun Newspaper.
In 2014 Brazil hosts the World Cup and football squads will need all their star players on board. They will not need allegations of match fixing amidst scandals involving rogue betting, let alone players under arrest.
In Italy an investigation into football match fixing has already resulted in several arrests and bans, but that could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Late last week UEFA announced an 11-point plan designed to tackle match fixing, which will be distributed to all 54 European football associations but can it stop the rot?
That remains to be seen.
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