Declan Hill launches new book in a lively event at the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre

On Monday 11 November, the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre has hosted investigative journalist and academic Declan Hill, as part of the Sport Business Seminar Series which takes place on term time.

Central to the event was the launch of Declan’s new book, The Insider’s Guide to Match Fixing in Football, which is based on his Doctoral research. You can watch the full event here.

Some 120 guests came along to witness Declan’s presentation, among them academics, players’ agents, betting experts and senior sports professionals.

Declan expressed his concerns with respect to match-fixing: “It has injected sport with a bizarre form of steroids. It’s happening now, in our generation, on our watch. Unless we fight it, it will destroy sport,” he said.

The way forward and possible scenarios where match-fixing can be addressed are described in Declan’s new book. Similarly to FIFPro’s ‘Black Book: Eastern Europe’ survey, he believes that a crucial weakness – which the fixers exploit – is poor management standards which instigate a failure of too many clubs to pay their players on time.

And international football is no better, Hill explained: “You can be a player for an African team in the World Cup, watched by billions around the world, and not receiving your due salary. Some are being paid. You’re not.”

Declan concluded by saying that addressing poor payments standards and focusing on older players are some of the more foreseeable solutions: “If we want to beat this new wave of match-fixing then we have to take care of our older players . . . make sure they get paid. Sport is under threat but we can beat the match-fixers. We should beat them. We must beat them.”

The presentation turned into a lively debate as few of the guests took to the stage themselves, drawing on Decaln’s revelations from his recent research. They offered some invaluable insight into their organisations’ challenges as well as some very interesting perspectives.

FIFPro Division Europe Vice President Tony Higgins asserted that Declan’s latest book “adds to the body of information (which is still developing) about the dangers of match-fixing and the horrendous consequences it can have if it is not vigorously opposed on all fronts.”

Tony was then followed by Franz Tabone, Integrity Officer at the Malta Football Association (MFA). Franz presented the latest initiative in his country “Say NO to MATCH FIXING” while explaining the format and content of the forthcoming clubs’ education workshops to be held in the near future.

Lastly, the audience heard a few words on match-fixing in football from James M Dorsey, who is a columnist and the author of the widely acclaimed and quoted blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. Mr Dorsey outlined that alongside educational and law enforcement efforts to tackle match-fixing, there needs to be a more clear discussion on the issue of the relationship between sports and politics and how this affects the governance structures as well as the level of transparency and accountability of international sport organisations.

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