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article imageOp-Ed: Is English football fit for purpose? Special

By Alexander Baron     Dec 14, 2013 in Sports
English football is watched all over the world. Now, as yet another scandal looms, its reputation is in danger of being fatally tarnished.
If for some bizarre reason you enjoy spending your Saturday afternoons watching 22 blokes in shorts running up and down, and if you haven't yet seen this video, take a gander. It shows a professional footballer — a man who has played not only at national but international level — claiming on camera that he participated in fixing a match. This video and investigation by a Sunday tabloid, had led to no fewer than six arrests by Monday morning.
Those with long memories will remember the case of goalkeeper Bruce Grobellaar who was likewise filmed boasting to an undercover journalist that he could fix a match. Grobbelaar's libel battle with the Sun newspaper went all the way to the House of Lords where he walked away with a judgment that valued his reputation at just £1. Considerably less than mine!
Earlier this week I received a telephone call from a football fan who seems to think I too am into the misnamed beautiful game. I can't imagine where he got that idea. Although he must of needs remain nameless, he sent me this YouTube link, a short clip that shows the always controversial Chelsea captain John Terry committing a gratuitous and indeed pointless foul during an international match. Except that with the on camera claims of Sam Sodje about match-fixing, a foul of this nature can no longer be dismissed as pointless. If you still don't think so, watch the video again. One word of warning, one copy has already been taken down from YouTube, but you won't have any trouble finding further copies.
Here is another report about Mr Sodje, who is currently said to be "without a club."
It goes without saying that if these claims are found to be true, Mr Sodje should remain without a club for the rest of his life, unless he is is deemed suitable to take the field for the team at Ford Open Prison.
Unfortunately, although this is the first time allegations of this nature have been tied to football at this level, this is far from a first. This CNN video was uploaded in February this year.
According to my anonymous source, match-fixing is not the whole story. There is even one instance of a manager — who must for the moment remain nameless — who transferred from one club to another which resulted in, shall we say, a large payout via the bookmakers?
Here is the former manager of Portsmouth talking about the emerging Sodje scandal.
In recent years we have seen the Pakistani national cricket team disgraced, and one of the world's leading professional snooker players having his career effectively terminated by a lengthy ban. If this can happen in snooker, why should we be surprised that it happens elsewhere?
Why should men on telephone number salaries, some of whom are idolised by millions, even consider stooping so low? And how on Earth do they think they can get away with it, even if they have for so long? Certainly in the UK a bet of any size or several smallish bets placed on a football match, a frame of snooker or even more regularly a horse will both affect the odds and alert the bookmakers — all of them — to something that needs their attention. The bottom line is the bookie can refuse to pay out. If bookmaking is not so well regulated in the Far East, then it is time it was. In the meantime, before you shell out £50+ for a match ticket next Saturday afternoon, ask yourself if that strange foul, or free kick, or surprise goal, is all it seems. Ultimately, you're the one who is paying for it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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