Brazil leads the ranking of games suspected of manipulating results in football – 03/04/2024 – Sports

Brazil leads the ranking of games suspected of manipulating results in football – 03/04/2024 – Sports


Having dealt last year with an investigation by the Public Ministry of Goiás into the manipulation of results in Brazilian Championship games, Brazil leads the ranking of matches in the sport with suspected manipulation.

According to a report prepared by the global consultancy Sportradar, based in Switzerland, from a universe of approximately 9 thousand matches monitored in Brazilian football in 2023, in 109 of them, or 1.21% of the total, suspicions of match manipulation were identified.

To reach suspicious games, the consultancy uses an artificial intelligence tool that indicates those in which there are related sports bets that deviate from the sport’s standard. After annotation based on algorithms, the games undergo a more detailed human analysis that confirms those that should be classified as suspicious.

According to Marcel Belfiore, specialist in Sports Law and partner at Ambiel Advogados, Brazil legalized betting on sporting events at the end of 2018 and, for around four years, there was a significant increase in the activity in a free and unlimited way, without there being any sector regulations.

“This gap ended up creating a scenario without adequate State participation in monitoring and controlling irregularities, which were relegated only to the betting operators themselves (bet houses), who were also victims of the manipulators”, says Belfiore.

Furthermore, the feeling of impunity, combined with the economic situation of many low-profile athletes, contributed to stimulating the activity of manipulators in Brazil, who take advantage of the extensive and varied national sporting menu to place bets on events whose outcome is already compromised, adds the expert.

Only in December 2023 did the Chamber of Deputies approve the project that regulates fixed-rate bets, such as so-called bets. The proposal was sanctioned on the 30th of the same month by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

At the end of January, the government created the Prizes and Betting Secretariat, which will be responsible for regulating and monitoring the betting and online gaming market.

“The main measure to reduce the risk of manipulation is regulation of the sector. With regulation, the State collects revenue and, consequently, has resources to equip control and inspection bodies”, says Belfiore.

Although it led the survey, which monitored 118 football competitions in the country, Brazilian football recorded a 29% drop in games suspected of manipulation in 2023, compared to the previous year.

It was the first reduction since 2020, with sector regulation and the MP investigation helping to curb the practice, points out the partner at Ambiel Advogados.

The Public Ministry’s Operation Maximum Penalty demonstrated the existence of a scheme to manipulate football matches for illicit gain on sports betting sites. Athletes were lured into, for example, committing penalties or taking cards on purpose.

Among the matches under investigation is the duel between Avaí and Flamengo for the 2022 Brazilian Championship, which ended in a 2-1 victory for the Santa Catarina club. The first goal of the match, in favor of Flamengo, was scored against by defender Wellington Nascimento.

Of the matches identified by Sportradar as suspected of manipulation, 15 were played in competitions organized by the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) and 94 by state federations.

Brazil easily leads the ranking of suspicious games. The Czech Republic, second on the list, had 67 matches considered to have an increased risk of manipulation. Next comes the Philippines, with 65, and Russia, with 55 games suspected of manipulation.

To reduce the risk of manipulation, the CBF — which has had a contract with Sportradar since 2018 to monitor national and state championships — created the Brazilian Football Integrity Unit in November last year, a new front that provides for the development of good practices .

Last year, the CBF also signed a cooperation agreement with the Federal Police to combat match-fixing in football. Under the agreement, the PF will receive a copy of all reports on suspicious cases detected by Sportradar.

“The development of online betting games increases the risks of manipulation and poses new and more complex challenges to combating corruption in sport. This phenomenon is a global threat and would be no different in the country of football”, stated the president of the CBF, Ednaldo Rodrigues.

For Marcos Sabiá, CEO of the betting platform, it is necessary to invest in the education of athletes, so that they understand that, “whatever act they participate in, even if it is a simple lateral or card without much relevance, it constitutes a criminal activity and in which he will be part of a criminal organization.”

Popularity makes football more susceptible to manipulation

The report also points out that football is the sport in which the most matches with suspected manipulation occur.

In total, the consultancy detected 1,329 suspicious matches last year in 11 sports and 105 countries, an increase of 9% compared to 2022.

Of the total, 880, or around 66.2%, were in football. Next comes basketball, with 205 matches (15.4%), table tennis, with 70 (5.2%), court tennis, with 61 (4.6%) and e-sports, with 46 (3. 5%).

With football being the most popular sport in Brazil, and given the country’s continental proportions, there are a multitude of football games taking place every day, with thousands of athletes involved, generating a huge range of “targets” for manipulation, says Belfiore.

In the consolidated, in proportional terms, the Sportradar survey identified a suspicious game every 467 matches. In football, the proportion is one suspect in every 160 matches, and one in every 244 in basketball.

“A similar pattern of suspicious departures will likely persist into 2024. Continued economic uncertainty and its impact on sports teams and athletes will likely play a significant role in influencing sports integrity,” the consultancy notes.


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