Gambling game: Football’s battle with betting
By Tom McGowan
Soccer stars have plenty of spare time, and plenty of money, so this week’s revelations of players gambling on events during English Premier League matches should come as no surprise.
Claus Lundekvam’s claims that “spot-fix” betting was rife when he was a player have attracted the attention of world governing body FIFA, which is also battling against the widespread problem of match-fixing.
The Premier League has a well-documented gambling culture, with big names such as Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney owning race horses and featuring in big-stake “card schools” on international and club duty.
Before them, England internationals Tony Adams and Paul Merson had highly-publicized problems with gambling and alcohol.
Former Southampton player Lundekvam is the latest to talk candidly about footballers’ vices, revealing that he and other top-flight stars made money out of betting on minor events in games such as the first throw-in or corner kick.
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“For a while we did this almost every week,” Lundekvam told a Norwegian television channel. “We made a fair bit of money. We could make deals with the opposing captain.
“For example, betting on the first throw, the first corner, who started with the ball, a yellow card or a penalty. Those were the sorts of thing we had influence over.
“The results were never on the agenda. That is something I would never have done. We were professional competitors. Even though what we did, of course, was illegal, it was just a fun thing.”
Strict regulations and laws govern what professional footballers are able to gamble on, but are football’s lawmakers taking the problem seriously enough?