Corruption in Sports: Money at Any Cost: Civil Services Mentor Magazine August 2013

Corruption in Sports: Money at Any Cost

Sport is a big phenomenon of today, it is very important part
of today life. However, sport is rather contradictory phenomenon. It is
connected with big humanistic values and it formats life and values of billions
of people on the one side. It is also connected with dirty business, doping,
corruption and violence on the other side. Corruption in sport should be matter
of concern not of pessimism. We are not speaking about decline of sport values.
But we are facing of a new challenge. This challenge is higher as the issue is
still not dealt with properly. We may perhaps compare doping in sport with
corruption in sport. However, doping has been seriously treated for many years
now, with number of experts, scientific background and international
co-ordination structures. Nothing of it exists in the area of corruption in
sport yet.

Just over a decade after cricket was hit by one its biggest
scandals, three Pakistani cricketers were given prison sentences last week by a
London court on charges of spotfixing. For the first time in cricket’s history,
players face jail terms of between six and 30 months, besides the prospect of
never again playing the game. This is in stark contrast to investigations into
match-fixing in 2000 where the central figure was the former South African
captain, Hansie Cronje. Cricketers from various countries were alleged to have
been involved, including a former captain of the Indian team who is now a member
of the Indian Parliament. Enquiry commissions were set up in South Africa and
Pakistan following the scandal, but most players got away with bans, fines or in
some cases just a reprimand. After the events of 2000, cricket’s governing body,
the International Cricket Council, set up the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit
to tackle the menace of match fixing. But ironically it was a sting operation by
the now discredited and defunct News of the World in 2010 which exposed the
spot-fixing by the Pakistani cricketers and provided evidence for sentencing.

While cricket with its elaborate rules is particularly prone
to spotfixing – where you bet on individual events within the game rather than
the result itself – the phenomenon of fixing is hardly confined to cricket. We
are at a time when the world of sport seems to be awash in corruption. Earlier
this year, prosecutors in South Korea indicted an astonishing 46 football
players on charges of fixing matches in the football K-League. According to the
South Korean prosecutors, the players received up to US$50,000 for fixing
matches, and sometimes even bet on the outcome. In Turkey, the champion club
Fenerbahce is at the centre of a match-fixing scandal, having won 16 of its 17
league matches at the end of the season to clinch the title on goal difference.
It’s not just sportspersons who are in the dock. Sports administrators all over
the world are facing scrutiny. FIFA, football’s governing body and the richest
sports association in the world, is in the midst of its biggest scandal. FIFA’s
24-member executive committee, which has had Sepp Blatter at the helm of affairs
for 13 long years, is among the most sought after clubs. But this elite club has
now been raven apart with influential committee members accused of paying

The head of the Caribbean and North and Central American
region has already resigned. And Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam, who was head of
Asia’s football federation, has been banned for life by FIFA’s ethics committee.
Bin Hammam is not going down without a fight. He has not only challenged FIFA’a
ban but also promised to reveal wrongdoings by Blatter. This has put a question
mark over the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which were
awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. What many had long suspected about the
cronyism and corruption within FIFA is now coming to light.The obvious reason
why there are so many corruption scandals involving both players and
administrators is the incredible amount of money involved in sport. FIFA’s
current annual revenue is now pegged at US$1.3 billion and it even gets tax
breaks from Switzerland where it is headquartered. There is plenty of money too
in other sports like cricket which enjoys much less global popularity, but is
akin to a religion in South Asia. In 2010-11, the Board of Control for Cricket
in India generated over US$400 million in revenues. With this kind of money it
is not surprising that corruption has eaten into sport. While sports
administrators in many parts of the world have never had a great reputation, it
is the corruption of players that is more worrying. Many individual sporting
disciplines have been tainted by performance enhancing drugs, but that is
something the administrators have tried to check by putting in place an
elaborate regime of doping tests.


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