Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup has commented on the issue of match fixing in football and says the term needs to be better defined as there is a line between teams paying bonuses to each other and individuals being paid to play poorly during a game.
Laudrup has talked openly about the ‘suitcase’ culture that he witnessed during his time in Spain. The ‘suitcase’ culture is effectively when one team would promise another an amount of cash if that team won the game. The point the Dane is arguing is that this is no different from paying a player a goal bonus or a goalkeeper a clean sheet bonus.
“If Swansea play the last game against a team and a third team pays Swansea to win the game, I really don't see anything bad about that. It's just a bonus. For me, match-fixing is somebody pays someone to lose a game,” he said on the BBC Football website.
This is a very valid point and it’s easy to see where this issue can be clouded over very quickly. If a team accepts payments from third parties in any form whatsoever, fair and legal or not, then it gives a massive indication over the credibility and style of the management that controls that team. Bonuses are filtered through the infrastrcture of a club, not paid indirectly from the outside.
There are sides that would have nothing to do with any of this, nothing to do with bonus payments, nothing to do with bribes, the sort of sides that keep their noses clean 100 per cent of the time and don’t stray close to the lines of what is acceptable or not. Is it fair that these teams and football clubs miss out when there is no official line on teams accepting third party bonus payments.
Laudrup is openly suggesting that bonus payments are taking place in football, probably in England and probably all over Europe. However, he is arguing the justifiable point that if this is allowed to continue and isn’t defined then instances of match fixing will pop up all over the sport.
“In Spain where there's one or two matches left in a season we always talked about the suitcases. But the suitcases is to win - I don't see anything bad about that. I think we have to define very well what is match-fixing because there's different levels, I think,” he added.
So is there anything wrong with one team paying another to win? Well, if your club was involved then you’d hope that they would be going all out to win the match in the first place. Furthermore, the FA’s Rule E5 doesn’t even address the issue of a team and third party cash. The rule talks about a ‘Participant’ accepting a bribe or gift to throw the outcome of a match which generally addresses individuals involved.
Ultimately what that means is the current ruling talks about individuals and the whole team issue hasn’t even been drafted into the equation yet. Good work Mr. Laudrup. Hopefully further definition of this issue will resolve it altogether.
Is he right? Is there anything wrong with a bit of extra 'incentive'?