Infamous Match Fixing Scandals That Shook Football

Gemma Thomas
Gemma Thomas
5 Min Read

Football is known as the “beautiful game” but there’s an ugly side to it that’s hidden beneath all the excitement it brings – the nasty business of match-fixing.

Several scandalous incidents in football have come to light, some of which we will cover in this article. The stories will prove how greed and the desire to be the best can cause people to drop all morals if it means they will benefit. Not all were proven guilty, but we will let you make your own judgements..

Olympique Marseille (1993)

The year of 1993 saw Marseille at the top of their game as they won the UEFA Champions League and their fourth straight Ligue 1 championship.

However, It was later uncovered that Bernard Tapie, a former owner of both Marseilles and Adidas, had paid Valenciennes to lose to Marseilles. Tapie reportedly wanted to prevent his team from suffering from an injury or having subpar conditioning at the Champions League finals.

Upon being found guilty, Bernard Tapie was given a life ban from football. Marseilles was stripped of their league title and immediately relegated to League 2.

Kurt Rothlisberger (1996)

Kurt Rothlisberger (a renowned Swiss and official FIFA referee) didn’t anticipate that his actions in 1996 would result in a lifetime suspension from the game.

Allegedly, before a Champions League match between Grasshoppers and Auxerre, Rothlisberger reportedly told Grasshopper executives they needed $70,000 to persuade the game’s referee, Vadim Zhuk, to rule in their favour.

Grasshoppers did win the game 2-0, but Kurt denied it was anything to do with his “stupid” suggestion. He retired after his ban was announced.

Cremonese Vs Paganese (2011)

One bizarre event in Italy involved the former Cremonese goalie Marco Paolini, who was found guilty of adding tranquilisers to his colleagues’ drinks and water bottles.

With Paolini in serious gambling debt, he thought fixing the match would solve his problems. Cremonese players showed signs of fatigue early in the game; others could not walk, and one even smashed his car on the way home.

Tests revealed that the players had been drugged, and further investigations identified Paolini as the primary offender. In the end, a five-year prison sentence was imposed on the former goalkeeper.

Calciopoli (2006)

The biggest match-fixing scandal in football history would possibly result in the harshest penalties for Italian football’s biggest names.

The issue came to light in 2006 after Italian police claimed they had intercepted phone calls involving some of Italy’s top teams. The conversations involved officials working with the referee’s organisation to choose favourable officials for their matches.

The teams involved included AC Milan, Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio, and others.

Club owners, referees, and senior club officials received extended suspensions as part of the penalties. Some, including former Juventus director Luciano Moggi and former Fiorentina co-owner Andrea Della Valle, received prison sentences in addition to their football suspensions. Juventus was demoted to Serie B and denied two Serie A titles as part of the clubs’ punishment.

Juventus were even harder hit during the summer, as the punishment led to a mass exodus of star players from the club.

Bruce Grobbelaar (1994)

In 1994, a media storm erupted when The Sun accused Southampton’s Bruce Grobbelaar of accepting bribes during his time at Liverpool. The newspaper claimed he agreed to match-fix a game against Newcastle United to benefit a betting syndicate.

After two trials, the jury failed to reach a verdict, and Grobbelaar continues to deny the accusations to this day.

West Germany vs Austria (1982 WC)

At the World Cup of 1982 in Spain, Austria and Germany knew that a 1-0 win for the latter would be enough for both teams to qualify from the group stage at the expense of Algeria.

Germany opened the scoring in the first ten minutes, where both sides decided to give up and pass the ball around for the other 80 minutes. The game finished 1-0, and with the world seeing what happened, both nations were condemned.

The incident resulted in FIFA changing the rules, stating that the last round of group games should kick off simultaneously.

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