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players shouldn't cop all the blame for match-fixing

Great article here from AFP demonstrating just how easy it is for a footballer to fall into the trap of a match-fixer. When employers do what they say in the contract - i.e. pay their players on time each month, then they should have nothing to fear. But when clubs are purchased as an ego-scratch for a wealthy owner, often someone with short-term success rather than decades of wealth, then the guarantee of caring for the players doesn't add up to much.

For all the Lampards, Gerrards and Van Persies out there on their megabucks, there are thousands of professional sportsmen just trying to squeeze out a decent living and provide for their families. Screw them over by not paying them on time and some might be tempted into alternative ways to pay their bills.

Football authorities looking to crack down on players who get caught up in match-fixing ought to be strengthening the financial regulations around owning a club. UEFA are attempting it at the top end re playing in the Champions League, how about at a much lower level where bad financial management opens the door to corruption?

Match fixing: Croatian footballer Mario Cizmek 'destroyed 20 years of hard work in just one month' after accepting money to fix games

Mario Cizmek thought it would just be one match. Ease up and let the other team win, he told himself, collect the pay-off and start paying off debts.

But the broke and desperate footballer soon learnt that one match would not do it. He would have to throw another game, then another, then another.

And so it went until, in what he described as his "worst moment", he was arrested at his home in front of his two daughters on charges of match fixing and hauled off to jail.

"Twenty years of hard work I destroyed in just one month," he said.

The Croatian midfielder was the perfect target for fixers: he was nearing the end of his career, his financially unstable club had not paid him a regular salary for 14 months, and he owed money on back taxes and his pension.

Cizmek's story is typical of how the world's most popular sport is increasingly becoming a dirty game - sullied by criminal gangs like the one that bribed Cizmek, and by corrupt officials or others cashing in on the billion dollar web of fixing matches.

Read the full article

Scary stuff which should be a warning for players and authorities alike. But, as per usual, I'll be amazed if authorities try to do anything about it other than keep pointing the finger at players....

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