Monday 18 October 2021

KNVB call for police to investigate matchfixing claims in youth football

The Dutch football association KNVB has called for police to investigate allegations of matchfixing in the youth league after an NOS podcast produced evidence that betting syndicates are earning tens of thousands of euros from rigged games.

The Gefixt podcast spoke to a person claiming to be a matchfixer after studying suspicious betting patterns on several matches, including one between Roda JC and RKC’s youth teams in November 2019.

Data analysis by a firm hired by NOS found that the odds of Roda winning the game changed dramatically during the first half as large amounts of money were bet on a home victory via the Asian online platform Singebet.

The game was goalless at half-time, but Roda JC won 2-1 despite going 1-0 down early in the second half.

‘It’s completely irregular in normal circumstances for the chance of a team winning to increase by 16% in 45 minutes when there are no goals or red cards. Roda went from clear outsider to clear favourite to win the match,’ the agency commented.

The ‘fixer’ told NOS he had paid five RKC players €1,500 each to lose the match and won more than €20,000 from backing a Roda victory.

He told NOS he was able to approach RKC’s youth team because he was friends with one of the players. ‘The players all know each other,’ he said. ‘Once you know one and you play football with them or go out for a bite to eat, you get to know them all. It’s a small world.’

The KNVB said it was aware of rumours of matchfixing at youth team level, but secretary-general Gijs de Jong said its ‘fears have been confirmed.’

De Jong said the governing body would investigate the claims, but lacked police powers to demand evidence from banks or telephone companies. ‘That’s why it would be very good if the authorities investigated further,’ he said.

He admitted that the KNVB had been slow to recognise that youth team players are vulnerable to approaches from match fixers. The association only began monitoring games for suspicious betting patterns last season.

‘It’s not a very prestigious league, but a very important league for the development of young players,’ De Jong said. ‘These are often young players who don’t earn big wages and are easy to approach. There are hardly any crowds and little supervision.’

You can listen to the Gefixt podcast (in Dutch) here.

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