Is Match-Fixing A Problem In Football?

With national teams preparing for their second game of the international week there’s not much Arsenal news so I thought I’d have a look at another issue which should be of concern to us all.
Recent events with the Pakistani national cricket team have raised the question again of match-fixing.  Yes, would be the answer of Dr Declan Hill, a renowned Canadian investigative journalist who has received many awards for his work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Public Broadcasting Service south of the border in the USA.
Amongst his many other qualities Declan – who lived part of his early life here in Blighty and read for his PhD at Oxford University – has the good taste to be a Gooner in addition to following Toronto FC and the Canadian national team.
Declan stumbled upon match-fixing and corruption in football almost by accident. He was doing a story on the influence of the Russian mafia on Russian ice hockey players playing the National Hockey League, that game’s professional league in the USA and Canada.
To cut a long story short, Declan’s discoveries are all to be found in his book “The Fix – Soccer and Organised Crime”. Now here comes the interesting bit. The book has become a best seller in Canada. It’s French and German versions have hit the top of the book-selling charts in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and Switzerland. The Dutch edition has done very well in the Netherlands and Belgium too. A Mandarin Chinese version has just been published in China. Yet despite repeated efforts Declan’s literary agent can’t find a British publisher.
Amongst many other things this shows the “chilling” effect that our Draconian libel laws have had on good investigative journalism here in Blighty. This has led to a sort of libel legal tourism with the rich and infamous instructing Sue, Grabbit and Run (Solicitors) to issue proceedings in the British courts.
On the eve of the announcement of Alisher Usmanov’s purchase of David Dein’s Arsenal Holdings shares the legal practice Schillings, one of the leading practices specialising in defamation cases here, faxed letters threatening dire legal consequences to just about every media outlet in the English speaking world if any of them revealed certain facts about Usmanov’s past. The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, now a human rights activist, had to move his web site to a server in the USA (where the protection of the first amendment to the American constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech applies) after his British internet service provider unilaterally closed down his web site under this threat. Such is the chilling effect of the law on libel and slander here.
Declan was invited over to Britain by those NICE people at the Football Supporters’ Federation for their annual Fans’ Parliament back in July. What he had to say was truly disturbing. The FSF is looking at ways it can get the book published here in Britain. The book is selling by the tens of thousands elsewhere in Europe. It’s a book that needs to be read here too.
Keep the faith!

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