Michael Calvin: Hypocrisy of football's links to gambling laid bare by FA
Roy Hodgson named his last squad in front of an ad for a bookmaker
Wednesday 09 April 2014
The Football Association strode purposefully towards the centre of a moral maze today, when its ruling council unanimously agreed to recommend a worldwide betting ban on anyone involved in the top eight tiers of the domestic game.
Announcement of the proposed legislation, due to be ratified by the FA's AGM on 21 May, was preceded by the sacking of Tranmere's manager Ronnie Moore, who has admitted breaching existing betting rules. Prudent punters, tempted to invest on the FA failing to mention the elephant in the Wembley committee room, would have been in profit, had they been able to get a bet on. Football's incestuous relationship with the gambling industry was studiously ignored.
The principle of tightening current rules, which prevent individuals betting on matches on which they have direct or indirect influence, is inarguable and was first proposed in 2009 by former FA chairman Lord Triesman. In an age in which it is dangerous to assume innocence, football has a duty to be diligent. Yet the FA epitomises the hypocrisy which underpins a broader societal problem. Roy Hodgson announced his last England squad while seated in front of a backdrop advertising one of the FA's official sponsors, bookmakers William Hill.
The Football League has a betting company as a title sponsor. The burgeoning profits made through football gambling fund a blanket marketing campaign which has helped make Ray Winstone more recognisable than one of his heroes, West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking.
Football has yet to compromise itself in the manner of racing, which often appears swayed by the gambling lobby, but inconsistencies are glaring. The FA has faith in its educational programmes, but it is difficult to see how the new rules, which involve a complete ban on betting on matches, team selection, transfers and the installation of managers, can be enforced.
Anecdotal evidence suggests many players, coaches and support staff at lower levels wager small sums in an attempt to boost meagre wages, yet the problem has manifested itself higher up. Three Premier League players, Andros Townsend, Dan Gosling and Cameron Jerome, have been recently punished for contravening regulations.
The case for forcing bookmakers to pay some form of levy, to help protect the game's integrity, is becoming unanswerable.
Latest in Sport
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: £58m deal hits the rocks as Wolfsburg admits they're 'in no rush' to sell former Chelsea midfielder
Pogba to Chelsea: Blues set to smash British spending record with £70m midfielder and £34m John Stones
Usain Bolt taken out by clumsy photographer on Segway during victory lap after World Championships 200m win over Justin Gatlin
Club Brugge 0 Manchester United 4 player ratings: Wayne Rooney scores hat-trick, but who impressed in Champions League tie?
Javier Hernandez: Great night for Manchester United, terrible night for Chicharito
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 4 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs