Are international crime syndicates gambling with the future of sport?

Revelations that over 700 European soccer matches have recently been fixed should spark a renewed investigation into the formal links between sport and gambling, according to a media sport expert at the University of Western Sydney.

Professor David Rowe, from the Institute for Culture and Society at UWS, is the author of Global Media Sport and Sport Beyond Television.

He says sports lovers have been down this path many times before, which simply shows the path is now a series of multi-lane highways.

“It should come as no surprise that, given the extravagant rewards available in contemporary global sport, there will be recurrent attempts to make money by illicit means,” says Professor Rowe.

“While many sports will profess shock at this development, they and the media companies who broadcast them should reflect on how they have encouraged this dire situation by enthusiastically embracing sport betting in its many exotic forms.”

Professor Rowe says sports and commercial television have been more than happy to promote betting as an inseparable part of the sporting experience.

“International criminal syndicates have taken them at their word, and are trying to change the odds in their favour,” he says.

“Of course, legal and illegal gambling on sport will always exist. But the legitimate sport, media and gambling industries have worked closely together to encourage many more people to gamble on small and large outcomes of sport contests, and so inevitably increase the rewards available from match-fixing and match-manipulation.”

“Perhaps several sports might consider that connection the next time they sign up a sport betting company as a sponsor, just as many TV stations could reflect on this growing problem when scripting their commentators to spruik the odds.”

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