There have been plenty of major fixing scandals that have shook the sporting industry, but fixing isn’t the only crooked practice lurking in sporting industries today. From corruption and fraud to famous sport stars being caught out for evading taxes, the world of sports is never without its fair share of drama!
You may have read about the infamous cases of Fine Cotton the racehorse and disgraced South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje, but there are many more major stories that deserve your attention, especially when it comes to football!
In March of 2016, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and several other major sporting names were placed under criminal investigation by authorities in Switzerland for mismanagement and misuse of FIFA finances. The arrests were made as part of an on going investigation, which included counts of wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering by the FIFA executives over the course of 24 years.
Since then, a formal investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups were awarded has also been launched and the results of this are still pending.
In late 2016, a scandal broke open to reveal that certain top British football clubs, including a Premier League team, had paid to silence young players that had been sexually abused by their coaches.
Numerous clubs had given financial compensation to the affected victims, but not before they had signed confidentiality agreements preventing their lawyers and families from speaking publicly of the cases. A growing number of similar reports of in-club paedophilia rings soon began to pour in, including some from current players who insisted that they were abused while in the clubs’ youth systems.
Calciopoli is probably the most famous match fixing scandal of the 21st century. In 2006, managers of Italy’s top professional football teams Serie A and Serie B were found fixing games by choosing favourable referees. The case was cracked open by the Italian police, and included many other major teams like Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina and Reggina. The scandal shocked Italy and the world, and to this day many feel that the game has not sufficiently recovered.
In August 2016, a massive 26 players of Nigeria’s U-17 side failed the age test that was conducted by a qualifier for the African Cup of Nations. MRI screening of the team showed that over half of them were not eligible to play.
Nigeria’s former Football Association president, Anthony Kojo, infamously noted to the BBC that his squad uses overage players for their junior games, and that they “always cheat. It’s a fact.” Just a few years before in 2013, Nigeria was also left without several key team members for their U-17 FIFA World Cup for the same reasons.
Last year, Lionel Messi was the star of a scandalous investigation into alleged tax fraud worth €4.1 million. Neymar, Javier Mascherano, and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo have all been the subjects of similar cases in the past, which have all been accompanied by the daunting possibility of total sanction.
Prosecutors pushed for a 21-month prison sentence, although conjecture remained over whether Messi’s father, who actually defrauded the government, should be the one to serve time instead.
Back in 2011, mainstream media exploded with the news that 5 Mexican players in the 2011 Gold Cup were tested positive for the banned drug Clenbuterol. All 5 players were found guilty of using the substance, which is often used as a fat-loss aid by bodybuilders.
Despite being found guilty, they blamed the positive tests on meat tainted with the drug. The players did not manage to win the appeal of their ban, but Mexico still managed to win the cup that year!