Brazil Leads The World In Suspicious Betting Events

March 6, 2024
Brazil had the ignominious honour of having the most cases of suspicious matches in the world in 2023, according to data collected by Sportradar Integrity Services. 

Brazil had the ignominious honour of having the most cases of suspicious matches in the world in 2023, according to data collected by Sportradar Integrity Services.

Brazil topped the league table with 109 sports events suspected of betting-related interference or manipulation last year, according to Sportradar's Betting Corruption and Match-Fixing review published earlier this week.

The silver lining is that the number of suspicious games in Brazil was down 29 percent from 153 in 2022.

For its review, Sportradar counted matches that had clear or credible evidence of manipulation. The company said the criteria for clear and credible evidence has a “high threshold”. 

Risks of match-fixing in Brazilian football made headlines ad nauseam in 2023, amid a high-profile parliamentary investigation that ended with no formal policy recommendations but still produced a lot of inflammatory finger pointing among politicians.

Several players in Brazil's domestic leagues, as well as in international competitions, were suspended following the fallout of a the so-called "Maximum Penalty" investigation led by prosecutors in Goias State.

West Ham's Lucas Paquetá is perhaps the most famous of the Brazilians accused of betting-related corruption in 2023, with investigations into allegations he deliberately received a yellow card in one Premier League game.

After he was tipped for Brazil’s squads in friendlies against England and Spain at the end of this month, it was falsely reported that the investigation into Paquetá had been dropped. But the English Football Association clarified this week that the investigation, however slow, is apparently still ongoing.

Meanwhile, Brazilian senators Eduardo Girão and Carlos Portinho last week requested another public hearing in the Senate to discuss the manipulation of results in the 2023 Brazilian championship. The request was granted. 

Girão is the leader of the Senate’s anti-gambling bloc who called for strict prohibitions on advertising, as well as a ban on online casino games, within a new law to regulate sports betting that was eventually approved by Congress last December. 

Concerns of sports integrity were a key driver behind the passage of legislation by Brazil's Congress.

Once regulations are finalised, licensed sports-betting platforms in Brazil will have to be members of a national or international integrity monitoring association and report any suspicious activities to the government. Brazil's Ministry of Sport will also have access to real-time data on betting activities.  

For its review, Sportradar analysed 9,000 games worldwide. Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) games ranked on par with those organised by the national associations of other countries for suspicious betting activity, whereas Brazilian state tournaments had double the rate of suspicious matches. 

Just 15 of the 109 suspicious games in question were under the purview of the CBF, while 94 were organised by state football federations. 

Every suspicious betting event in Brazil in 2023 was a football match, whereas worldwide it was football matches that were the culprit two-thirds of the time. 

The Czech Republic had the next highest number of suspicious sports events on 67, followed by the Philippines on 65. Brazil's neighbours Peru and Argentina had 38 and 36 suspicious matches, respectively. 

In a separate report released on January 31, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) similarly reported more suspicious betting alerts from Brazilian football than from any other country worldwide.

The IBIA reported a total of 11 suspicious alerts on football in Brazil from its members in 2023, ahead of the UK, Spain and Cote d'Ivoire on four each. However, the group reported more suspicious alerts on UK darts (17) and on table tennis events in the Czech Republic (12). There were 184 suspicious betting alerts in 2023 in total, according to the IBIA integrity report.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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