AFC, Sportradar claim 21% drop in match-fixing in Asia

Image credit: Asian Football Confederation

The Asian Football Confederation and sports data firm Sportradar have claimed their partnership since 2013 has resulted in a 21-per-cent drop in football match fixing in Asia.

Sportradar provides ‘integrity services’ to the AFC, including monitoring betting patterns on football matches to identify potential fixes.

Benoit Pasquier, AFC General Counsel and Director of Legal Affairs, told Reuters: “Since 2013, we have witnessed a significant reduction in the number of match-fixing related incidences.

“Sportradar has been pivotal in driving the decrease in overall figures for illicit activity…

“From 2016 we’ve witnessed a decline in match-fixing across Asia by 21 per cent and with our efforts in tandem with Sportradar, the preventive measures we’ve introduced have produced positive results.”

Reuters reported that integrity monitor Transparency International estimated the Asian illegal gambling market to be worth $400bn in 2018. Gambling is illegal in many parts of Asia, including the five most populous nations – China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The AFC and Sportradar last month renewed their partnership until the end of 2023. It was also expanded to cover other areas of sports integrity and security including monitoring anti-doping, age fraud, bullying and harassment, and stadium security.

Low player wages and increasing coverage of football on television and digital media had contributed to the growth of match-fixing in Asia, at least prior to the AFC-Sportradar partnership, Oscar Brodkin, Director of Intelligence and Investigation Services at Sportradar, told Reuters.

“Most of Asia sits in the sweet spot of low wages and high coverage and is therefore one of the highest risk areas,” he said.

“Player wages in Asia are generally lower compared to places such as Europe but paired with the growing viewership of football in the region, leads to higher stakes allowed on the betting market and thus the opportunity for large-scale fraud.”

Brodkin outlined some of the significant trends in Asian match-fixing in recent years. The break-up of large global syndicates prior to 2013 has led to a more ‘fragmented’ scene today, with more ‘lone wolves’ and localised gangs. The amount of money involved has grown since 2009, he said: “Match-fixing has evolved from a pastime or side hustle into a business.” And payments were starting to switch to crypto-currencies to avoid detection.