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Spot-fixing finds its way into handball

Imagine the gendarme from Allo Allo in court.... "But we weren't throwing the match your honour, so how can we be guilty?"

European press wires are going crazy with reports that some of the nation's best handball players, recent Olympic gold medallists in London, are caught up in a 'match-fixing' scandal in the French domestic league. Nikola Karabatic, one of the implicated, is renowned as one of the best players in the world. In the match in question, Montpellier were assured of winning the league, their 13th title in 15 seasons, while a win for their opponents Cesson-Savigne appears to have ensured they avoided relegation.

Details of the case are sketchy, as is often the case in a region which doesn't understand sports betting. Bets are supposed to have all been on the half-time result, and have turned €5000 into €200k! Not possible, the odds were nothing like that. Only full-time odds shown in the link below, but HT odds would have been fairly similar.

BetExplorer match details

Later reports suggest that it was many bets of €5000 involved, totalling €89k for winnings of just over €250k - much more realistic.

So was it a match-fix or an attempted spot-fix on the half-time result, where the players got guilty and thought it was too obvious, or they weren't good enough to turn it around? Or if the final result was the intention, then why not hit that market? Several key players were injured for Montpellier so the odds against them weren't as high as they might be normally - providing opportunity and an alibi.

They say only sloppy burglars get caught and the same certainly applies with match-fixers.

1 - bets are alleged to have been placed predominantly with one shop, La Francaise des Jeux. My source from PMU claims they saw nothing unusual...

2 - large bets were placed by infrequent gamblers connected to the players - their wives. Even Inspector Clouseau could see something dodgy in that.

3 - it was bloody obvious. Top team against one of the bottom ones in a nothing game, and a one-off fix? Why not just wear fluorescent uniforms sponsored by MATCH FIXERS'R'US?

4 - France does have laws and penalties against sporting fraud.

5 - Handball in France, despite being professional, is not a rich sport.

Eighteen players involved and this is what they are potentially facing.

Betting on your own side is against the ethical code of the sport, and the players face 15,000 euro fines and suspension from six matches for what they have already admitted.

But if they are found guilty of the more serious offence of game-fixing, they could be jailed for up to five years with fines of 75,000 euros.

Who knows how many times this might have happened at a lower level, but the one positive of it being uncovered at a high level is that it will be public, and the penalties will be harsh, hopefully serving as a severe deterrent for the future.


  1. Great write up Scott..on the ball ( no pun intended ) as usual and fun to read.


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