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Italian football

There was what is IMO a fascinating story in Gambling Compliance and on yesterday, in relation to a point which I have often tried to make and which I brought up a lot when I was on the Parry Commission which looked at issues of integrity in sport. I don’t think it will be news to any punters or bookmakers, but I’m glad the story is finally getting a wider audience.

For me, the story is not important for its betting relevance, but for precisely for opposite: it shows that any attempts to deal with integrity issues which do not consider the wider picture are fundamentally flawed.

I have argued here before, and I did (wholly unsuccessfully) til I was blue in the face on the Parry panel, that the objective of any regulatory body should be to root out the corruption of sport for financial gain howsoever that financial gain is created, rather than just focussing on betting. While it is no doubt fair to say that in many instances, the financial gain will be created through the betting markets, the fact is that there are plenty of ways to benefit financially from sporting corruption in a way which does not touch the betting markets at all. Securing a place in football’s top-flight by arranging draws will probably make you a lot more money than having a corrupt bet.

For me, that is why the issue of corruption is one which sports need to deal with at the heart of the problem (that is, by working with the  players), rather than, as happens currently, by pointing fingers at the legal betting companies and using the issue as an excuse to try to get money out of them.

As GC is a subscription-only site, I have asked them for permission to reproduce the whole article below.


Italian Football’s Dubious Draws In The Spotlight

31 Mar, 2011 / GamblingCompliance Ltd.Graham Wood
The uncanny frequency with which end-of-season matches in Italian football end in tied outcomes has finally come under the spotlight, with one MP calling for suspect matches to be postponed pending further enquiries.

For many years bookmakers have had to tread warily when pricing up end-of-season games in Italy, as the result – a convenient draw – is frequently widely anticipated and the prediction usually correct.

The first such game that caught bookies napping, back in the early 90s when overseas companies first became involved in the Italian market, was a draw between league leaders Milan and bottom of the table Brescia.

Both teams were in need of a single point and while the majority of Italian punters knew in advance the outcome and cashed in, the mis-priced game cost early pioneers a fortune.

Since then mid-table teams with little to play for have handed each other easy results for years, ensuring oddsmakers have to take into account favours from seasons past in order to set the right odds.

With only a few weeks of this season left the draw flood has, as usual, started again and following complaints last weekend a number of matches are now set to disappear from bookmakers’ lists.

In the Serie B second division there are at least three matches with draws priced at odds of around 1.60 by the bolder firms, or simply missing from other companies’ odds lists.

Even the Serie A games Chievo vs Sampdoria and Genoa vs Cagliari have draws priced at around 1.35 and 1.70 where the games are still on offer.

While in the past even the authoritative sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport blithely ignored the lack of competitiveness of the countless 0-0 draws and awkward games where teams took turns to score to even the balance, the matter has now hit the headlines as the football authorities, Finance Police and even parliament have begun to deal with the matter.

Senator Franco Cardiello raised the issue of suspect games in the Italian parliament this week, linking the issue to money laundering and referring to the enquiry initiated by the Federcalcio football association into two specific matches, Chievo vs Sampdoria to be played on 3rd April, and other recent matches.

Recent games between Padova and Atalanta and Ravenna and Spezia in Serie B, and in the Lega Pro lower division involving Fondi and Neapolis, as well as two Benevento matches, have all attracted huge and disproportionate volumes of bets.

Bookmakers have reacted by removing suspect games once liabilities become too high, or by making the games “singles only” to avoid multiple bets combining too many draws at prohibitively high odds.

As sportsbetting in Italy has become more legitimate and mainstream, an unexpected side-effect has been the latest widespread scrutiny of what was once one of Italy’s most unique springtime sporting traditions.




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