Research into the impact of match-fixing in sport through the ages has been presented at the World Congress of Science and Football by an academic from the University of Cumbria.
Making his first trip to the congress, emeritus professor of cultural history Mike Huggins presented his work to delegates who gathered in Melbourne this month.
Professor Huggins, president of the European Committee for Sport History, continues to research British sport over the last three centuries. His significant body of work built up over at least the last 20 years shows that match-fixing has been common in sports where there has been a gambling market.
Following his Match-fixing, History and Cultural Perspectives presentation, Professor Huggins said: “Match-fixing is now seen as the most major issue facing top-level football. Illegal betting markets in some parts of the world are turning over up to $4trillion US Dollars annually meaning that international criminal gangs are able to make huge sums out of fixing games.
“There are examples around the world where this has led to some leading soccer leagues suffering drops in attendance because supporters did not trust results and this resulted in huge financial losses for clubs. Now all top sports organisations and clubs are setting up integrity units and developing a variety of high-cost strategies to combat it.
“It was important for me to make the trip to the congress because all research focuses on this recent period when online gambling began and encouraged global criminal activity on match-fixing. My own research on British sport over the last three centuries has shown that in all sports where there has been a gambling market, including cricket, soccer, boxing, horse racing and athletics, match-fixing been has almost as common as left-handedness.”
During his trip Professor Huggins was able to observe how Australian communities have been reacting to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which reaches its climax on July 7.
“Women’s sport attracts more interest [in Australia] than in the UK, and more women attend men’s sport,” said Professor Huggins.
Professor Huggins will see his latest book, Match-Fixing in Historical Perspective, published by Routledge later this year. It has been edited jointly with one of Australia’s foremost sport historians, Adjunct Professor (Associate Professor) Rob Hess, of Victoria University, Melbourne.