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Stats Perform report: Suspicious betting on football declined in 2018

Suspicious betting activity around international and domestic football matches declined in 2018 according to a new report by Stats Perform and Starlizard Integrity Services. 377 matches were identified as having suspicious betting patterns, versus 397 matches in 2017.

The Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report was compiled using data from 62,250 football matches played in 2018. This included domestic and international competitions across 115 countries and six continents. The decline in suspicious activity as a percentage is even more pronounced given that the report reviewed 14 per cent more matches than in 2017, the first year it was published.

Analysed by geography, Europe had the highest number of suspicious matches (227 versus 237 in 2017) but Asia had the highest number as a percentage of matches analysed (0.95 per cent versus 1.34 per cent in 2017).

Oceania and North America were at the lower end of the scale with suspicious activity accounting for 0.04 per cent and 0.13 per cent of matches respectively. Africa and South America registered 0.26 per cent and 0.33 per cent respectively.

The report indicated that youth matches continue to make up a disproportionate amount of the irregular betting patterns. They accounted for 15.4 per cent of all of the suspicious activity in 2018, despite making up just 5.6 per cent of all the matches analysed in the report.

One European domestic youth league continued to arouse suspicions. The league in question registered 22 suspicious matches, the same figure as last year, with one team featuring in 13 suspicious matches, the highest number of any club worldwide. In the past the report’s authors have chosen not to ‘name and shame’ the leagues or rights-holders in question because of the chance that the activity proves to be benign.

Another Eastern European league was however proven to be a hotbed for match-fixing after 7 per cent of all matches showed signs of irregular betting patterns. A statement from Stats Perform indicated that effective action by the rights-holder and law enforcement in that country had led to a number of arrests in the first quarter of 2018, disrupting what was believed to have be an organised, cross-border match-fixing operation. The suspicious match count has declined markedly since the law enforcement activity.

For the first time women’s football was identified as being subject to suspicious activity. Three international matches, two club internationals and one domestic league match aroused concerns accounting for 0.26 per cent of the 2,328 matches analysed.

The authors have been careful to clarify that suspicious betting patterns do not necessarily mean match-fixing has taken place. In the introduction the report states: “Suspicious” betting markets by definition refer to markets that, when likened to comparable markets, look irregular and for which we can find no regular explanations as to why the markets have taken this appearance.”

US-based sports data and technology company Stats merged with UK-based operation Perform to create Stats Perform, a new sports data and AI company, in July this year.

To read the report, click here.