FA fears it is powerless to fight rising threat of match-fixing

Governing body struggling to protect football as corruption concerns grow

Senior Football Association officials in charge of maintaining the integrity of the game are privately worried that they are powerless to act against an increasing threat of match-fixing and other betting-related malpractice.

"There's no proof of endemic corruption, but cases have cropped up, and continue to do so, and they are becoming more complex and harder to investigate," one well-placed source has told The Independent. "We have issues with the policing of the integrity of the game and can't, under current circumstances, provide any guarantees that we can protect it."

The FA has a secrecy policy surrounding investigations so it is impossible to know how many cases of alleged corruption are under scrutiny, let alone details of what the FA actually does in investigations. "In practice, it is often very little," says another source.

Thus the FA will not detail how it investigated allegations surrounding irregular betting patterns in Asian markets on the Championship match between Norwich and Derby last autumn. It opened and closed what was claimed to be a thorough investigation within two months.

Nor will it say what progress has been made in discovering who placed unusually large sums of cash – in CCTV-equipped betting shops – on Bury beating Accrington in League Two last May. Betting was suspended and Bury won. The investigation remains open nine months on.

Nor will the FA give details of investigations, if any, into allegations of match-fixing in the non-league game late last year, or ongoing probes into reports, including in this newspaper, of players accepting bribes to get red-carded.

"No comment" is the stock phrase, although the FA privately argues it is hamstrung on what it can do. Scant resources are one issue. It is understood that only one FA employee at any one time from a staff of around 20 in the regulation department works full-time on betting integrity issues.

"This is a problem not just for football but for the whole sports industry," an FA source says. "Policing costs money, and the gambling industry needs to contribute more. The FA as a governing body is also helpless to prevent the availability of what might be considered 'high-risk' betting markets."

Last year the FA was forced to be more transparent than usual in one case following questions in Parliament from the Norwich North MP, Ian Gibson, and the Norfolk North MP, Norman Lamb, about alleged irregularities in betting on the Norwich-Derby game. Their intervention prompted the FA to confirm it was looking at a specific game.

Gibson, who has met with the FA to discuss the subject and will also meet soon with the Gambling Commission, was last night awaiting a response to another parliamentary question, this time addressed to Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, relating to how many times he or his predecessors have liaised with the FA on these issues in the last five years. Gibson has also written to the FA to seek details about the processes of investigations, and ask whether the FA feels it is adequately staffed and funded to deal with any threat from gambling-related corruption.

While the English game has been largely untarnished by serious cases of substantiated corruption, leagues as comparable as Germany and Italy have been hit in recent years, as too have more obviously susceptible targets in eastern Europe and Asia.

"My appetite has been whetted by contact with the FA and the answers they have provided to my initial inquiries," Gibson told The Independent. "I know, for example, that the FA is severely restricted in what it is able to do about betting on English football, especially in Asian markets. While they don't deny that [irregular betting] could occur, and it probably does happen, they seem to need more stimulation to investigate the source of the bets and find out who benefits from the results. At the moment we have a far from satisfactory situation."

An FA spokesman said last night the FA was unable to comment on any ongoing investigations, or even say how many there were.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style