While allegations have simmered out recently, the inner workings of football remain cloaked in secrecy and controversy.
The sport’s susceptibility to match fixing and the degree to which it affects the game in the first place is largely unknown. However, from time to time, instances emerge that cast the integrity of entire competitions into doubt.
One such incident has recently surfaced and it, rather incredibly, could impact upon England.
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Match fixing investigation
Lithuania’s 2-0 win over Malta is currently being subjected to a match fixing investigation. Moreover, given this was a fixture played in England’s World Cup qualifying group, it could have ramifications for the Three Lions.
After all, Gareth Southgate’s men had played Malta mere days before the match in question and won by the same scoreline.
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The Maltese national goalkeeper, Andrew Hogg, has shed light on the controversial game.
The 31-year-old explained how FIFA officials came into the Maltese dressing room to warn players that their match could have been rigged. Lithuania players as well as the referee were also informed prior to kick off.
This was in light of suspicious betting patterns that had been placed in relation to the game. A selection of betting syndicates had gambled millions on Lithuania winning by two goals or more.
Hogg explained, according to The Sun, his reaction to the incident by explaining: “It was strange and felt very uncomfortable — as if we were being accused of cheating.
“I knew I’d done absolutely nothing wrong and had no idea what they were talking about. “But I was left thinking, ‘If I f*** up now I might end up in the police station.’
“In the event, there was nothing I could do about the goals. I made three or four good saves which show I was doing my best. I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
The London-born shot stopper also alluded to potential consequences by stating: “This could really mess up the group because no one knows what might happen next. It’s a bulls**t situation.”
As for what would actually happen, if the teams were found guilty, the game would be rendered null and void with replays drafted.
While at this point they simply prove allegations, it is nonetheless concerning that teams competitively playing England could potentially be cheating.
Only time will tell if Lithuania’s seemingly crucial 2-0 win was achieved on their own merit though. For the sake of FIFA’s reputation and faith in the ‘beautiful game’, it can only be hoped that that is exactly the case.
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