14 Apr 2016

NZ sport warned to expect 'tsunami' of match-fixing

12:42 pm on 14 April 2016

New Zealand athletes and sporting organisations are being warned to arm themselves against a "tsunami" of match-fixing and corruption.

International expert Declan Hill said sports officials and players needed to educate and safeguard themselves from these activities before they became entrenched in this country.

Football generic

Photo: 123RF

Speaking to Nine to Noon, Mr Hill said globalisation had made corruption so widespread in international sports that New Zealand would not be immune.

Mr Hill said the smallest tournament could become a target for match-fixing.

"If you can get to the World Cup you can get to any tournament, so really, I repeat this message to New Zealand sports fans, officials, players and athletes: get your protection in now. It's too late once the fixers arrive," he said.

Big international tournaments and marquee players were still the most lucrative, but globalisation of the illegal industry meant even school and college sports were now a target. he said.

Mr Hill infiltrated Asian match-fixing gangs over a number of years and found that even an under 15 hockey match was being fixed.

"Low-grade matches are now susceptible to corruption that they weren't five or ten years ago," he said.

"My basic message to New Zealand is, it's going around the world, it's affected far more leagues, sports and countries than you possibly imagine... it's a tsunami. You've got to get your protection in now before it gets here too."

Mr Hill was the first person to show the new danger to international sport posed by the globalisation of the gambling market and match-fixing at the highest levels of professional football including the Champions League and FIFA World Cup tournaments.

African and former Soviet Union athletes were often the most susceptible to corruption, he said.

"African athletes are really easy and they target them constantly because they're exploited and ripped off by their officials, it's really difficult to overstate the corruption.

"The same thing happens in former Soviet countries. The systemic link between the mafia and athletes in those countries is extraordinary," he said.

Mr Hill has written two books on the subject. Part of his first book The Fix: Organized Crime and Soccer detailed his involvement with an Asian match-fixing gang as they travelled around the world to fix major football matches. His second book was called The Insider's Guide to Match-Fixing.

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