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Gambling, ref fixing, money laundering, homophobia… all part of the rich mix of English football.

By Tony Attwood

The press made a fuss, radio made a fuss, TV made a fuss.  The big deal was that as all good English people know, you can’t trust these foreigners.   Not only do they fix matches in their own countries but they fix a game on English soil too.   [Just in case you are not of English origin, let me explain - this is a parody of how the English behave.  Johnny Foreigner, as he is called, does terrible things and behaves badly, while the English are the only ones who know that cheating and match fixing is wrong.  One plays up and plays the game.]

So now we know.  380 games have been tampered with and most of them were in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany.  Which is what we might expect.  And the corruption is based in the Far East – nothing to do with us.

We know that because… well we know that.  The fact that last season Untold Arsenal’s report on referees came up with figures that can only be understood in terms of either match fixing or gross incompetence.   This season, to avoid the suggestion of bias towards Arsenal we are running reviews of many more matches on Referees Decisions.  There is a link to the site at the foot of almost all the articles we run here.
And not only is that awkward fact ignored, so is the realisation that Qatar has been able to buy the World Cup and is now buying clubs as well.  And the fact that our FA still consorts with the organisation that allowed this to happen.  An organisation that does nothing to stop racism in football.  Just like Uefa, to which the Premier League is allied.
But ok, let’s ignore that facts just as in history while we rightly commemorate and respect those who died at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground, we forget the politicians who allowed that ground to act season after season as a semi-final venue without proper safety checks.  And we ignore the tragedy of Heysel in 1985 when 39 died and 600 were injured.  And why we ignore the fact that Bradford City directors must have known that their stadium was a fire hazard?  We often ignore the bits that don’t fit.
It is because we are selective in our history, as indeed most nations are.
But there are in fact three reasons why there might be any sort of doubt about football match results.  One is indeed match fixing by gamblers.  Another is the Italian model in which referees are provided with rewards for general favours, aided by the fact that the number of refs available is so low that it becomes more than likely that a particular referee will oversee a game in which a little help to a particular club might be useful.  And the third is money laundering – in which whole clubs and individual players are bought, manipulated and sold (or allowed to die) just so that vast amounts of money can pass through the club unchecked in order for it to be exchanged for clean money.
In this last case there is a real oddity in that who wins the match and how well a player does, doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that clubs and players are bought and sold at insane prices so that money can be cleaned.    If you have doubts just go back and look at the whole series of articles that we ran on money laundering in our corruption series.
And just while we are at it, lets not forget the disgraceful way in which homophobia has been ignored by the police and clubs.  Of course if you read this column regularly you will know how much I have written on this subject and I won’t bore you by covering the same events again.
Fortunately there are one or two journalists in this country who cannot stomach the “we’re all right it is just the foreigners” approach of most of the media.  There are reports of late in a couple of papers of a senior exec in the betting industry in this country speaking anonymously to a few journalists and saying, “You only have to look at the extent of the betting action in the Far East to know the threat is always going to be there. When so much money – and we are talking billions here – can be made so quickly, who could be surprised by yesterday’s news [of match fixing]? …

“We know that in the past games have been fixed in England – and there is just no reason to believe that a serious threat has gone away. In fact, it is quite the opposite.”

Yes, there have been match fixing scandals in England, of course.  At Arsenal there is one that we know very well, when Liverpool and Manchester United players joined together to fix a match at the end of the 1914/15 season.  We know of it because in the shake out from that event Arsenal were elected to the first division in 1919 as the league was expanded.  And then again in 1964 33 players were prosecuted in England for match fixing.  One went to prison.

The game in England will not improve until there is open recognition that there is something strange going on with refereeing in the Premier League, and that there is every chance that there are many other games in England being fixed by gamblers, and that clubs in England are being manipulated for money laundering purposes (one only has to look at the demise of Portsmouth to realise something is wrong, and that is while we are awaiting the trial of the senior executive of Birmingham City).   It is of course commonplace for fans of other clubs to say to us, “you are just bitter because you are Arsenal and you can’t win anything”.  That plays into the media’s hands and ignores the mountain of evidence we have gathered, and all the articles we have written.

If we could be proven wrong, then fine, we would put these subjects to bed.  But no one has done anything remotely like this, and the main hope of football seems to be that Untold and Referees Decisions will simply fade away.

Sadly for the authorities the more we uncover the more our audiences on these sites rise.  And the more that happens, the more the little group of us involved in uncovering the nasty side of football is determined to push on.

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The books…

The sites…

The politics of refereeing; it is not just what you know, it is who you know

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The books…

The sites…

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By Walter Broeckx

When I was reading my article on the statistics of Dean again I found that there was a big gap. There was something important missing. This was my fault but I kept it out of the article because otherwise it might have been twice the length it actually ended up at. And people would miss this important part of the hidden referees world.

The thing I left out or just briefly mentioned is that the referee world is very much about politics and who knows who and who likes who.  Likewise family ties are important for some careers.

And again “Politics” are very important. And I don’t mean big international or government politics. But gently stroking the right person at the right time is THE WAY TO GET PROMOTION.

Everyone who has been a ref knows it. You need someone powerful to lift you to the top. So if you are smart and you can identify the person that can put in a good word for you it is important to please him.

You must remember that to get to the top and to get a Fifa badge you first of all must be a good ref. But that is only 50% of what you need. I have seen amazingly good refs myself who don’t get a chance to get higher. And then I see poor refs who get promotion. Because the latter knows how the game outside the field is played.

And that game outside the field is maybe even more important than the game on the field. When the commission has to choose between two refs who get the same score on the field. Who will they pick? Ref A who never is friendly towards the commissioners, who has no family ties, who has no bonds with high placed people? Or Ref B who always is there to laugh out laud with the most stupid joke a commissioner makes, who’s father also was a ref and knows the commissioners, and who is always chatting and talking with the powerful people in the game?

Well even if ref A gets a higher score on the field, the ref that will get promotion will be ref B.

And that is a very sad thing in the referee world. All the referees I have spoken with they all know it. And it just isn’t in my country of Belgium but it is widespread.  Across the world as I found out in my contacts with refs from over the whole world.

Spotting the right connections at the right time. It is something the public in general is not aware of but believe me as an insider: IT IS ALMOST THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN YOU ARE A REFEREE!!!

Your mistakes on the field are minor mistakes compared to making mistakes in your relations off the field. I have known cases in which referees didn’t get promotion even when he had the highest on-field scores. But to stick with the A and B ref, if ref A is a ‘loner’ with no connections he will miss promotion. Even if ref B has a lower score but well… he has the right connections.

Referees are not friends together, they are each other competitors.  They all want to end at the top. They all want to end in the highest possible division in their country.  Ok, not all. Some do it just for fun. As it can be fun.  But for the ambitious ones, it is a world where you have to be a shark and eat or get eaten.

The correct family ties can also help.  Believe me many refs have fathers who also were refs and who have connections and use their connections to help their sons. That in itself is of course not just a referee thing but many refs at the end of their career end up in the commissions.   So it can happen that a father has to decide in a commission over the promotion of his son or another person.  In such a case the father usually has no voting rights. But the father can of course have a few words with the people who have voting rights. And those people know that one of the fellow commissioners is the father of that ref. So what will be the most plausible outcome of the vote?

So if you have no family ties in the referee world you have to overcome this handicap. A big handicap. And then the best way to overcome this handicap is what we in my own language call “licking yourself to the top”. I’m not going to mention the body parts you are supposed to lick as I want to keep this site clean.  But there are some parts I don’t really want to lick – although some people will lick anything they get offered.

So for those who were still thinking that only the performances on the field are important for a ref this might come as a surprise. But the fact is, socializing with the right persons at the right time are as important or even more important. Of course you must be a bit of a good ref but believe me it is just a part of it.

Of course with Dean I want to say that I don’t know if Dean has the right family connections. I don’t know if his father was a ref or not.   But  I really do think he is a smart and ambitious person.  And it sure would be interesting to find out if Dean has family ties with refs or not. It could explain a lot and could confirm my thoughts on him.

So why doesn’t PGMOL release the information and let us know who is related to whom in the world of refereeing?

Personally I think that Dean is already having an eye on the place of Mike Riley… but maybe that just my bizarre imagination.

However can you imagine Mike Dean becoming head of the PGMOL? I leave that thought with you.

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