THE Scottish Football Association aims to stave off the scourge of match fixing by appointing an integrity officer to target corruption. The position, which will be part funded by UEFA, has been advertised.
SFA president Campbell Ogilvie says Scottish football does not have a problem but given the arrests of a match-fixing ring in England two weeks ago he cannot be complacent.
He said: “It’s a part of the game throughout the world that is a changing face and we want to be one step ahead. But I don’t believe that we have any issues on that front.
“We are working closely with the police and the William Hills of this world so there is an early warning system if anything comes up – we are also working with PFA Scotland and the government.”
The worrying aspect for PFA Scotland’s Jack Ross is that one of the match-fixers claimed that Scotland was a market they operated in and he has also heard that £500,000 worth of bets were recently placed on a third-tier Scottish game. He is concerned that vulnerable and susceptible players in the lower reaches will be targeted.
Ross, in charge of communications at PFA Scotland, said: “Innocent approaches are often the way it starts. I have seen an example in the States where an ex-mafia don now goes and presents about how he was involved in that aspect of criminality in the States.
“He explains about how they approached college athletes, how they befriend them and start the grooming process. There are varying factors that can lead to match fixing. Physical intimidation and violence is one of them, non-payment of wages is another.
“The people who look to influence and fix matches will obviously look to pick what they believe is the best environment to do it and that has certainly been the case in other countries where it has been lower league games. What we are seeing now across the Border is that it is in Conference matches that there have been more investigations around.”
Ross can’t say for certain that games have not been fixed in Scotland already and he has heard of the huge betting patterns – especially the £500,000 on one Scottish game.
He said: “You can speak about it as a surprise but it is not surprising because the size of these markets, especially in the Far East, is billions and billions of pounds – that is the sports betting market. There is absolutely no way I could say with any confidence that match-fixing hasn’t happened in Scotland. Equally I couldn’t say that it never would.”
Fighting match-fixing was part of the remit of former SFA security officer David Brand, who stepped down from his post two weeks ago, but now there will be a specific role.