Sports Betting corrupting Canadian Soccer League
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Soccer isn’t exactly the biggest draw for athletics fans or sports betting in Canada. However, the True North has become an epicenter for controversy ever since allegations arose that the Canadian Soccer League had been corrupted by match-fixing.
The Toronto Football Club, aka Toronto FC (or simply TFC, for short), is a devoted professional soccer club with a lot of notable talent. In its 10 year history, the team has won 5 Canadian Championships and was named the 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Champions.
But no one is too concerned with TFC. Match-fixing isn’t a big problem in the major leagues. It’s the minor leagues and amateur sports that are mostly effected, which brings us back to the Canadian Soccer League. The CSL is a very small, low-level league based in southern Ontario. So small, in fact, most people have never even heard of it, much less watched any of its games.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what illegal match-fixing agencies are looking for. Since no one pays much attention to these sports, there aren’t many out there breaking down the odds to see which team should win, or where the best bets lie.
CSL Match Fixing Nothing New
Sports betting in Canada has come under heavy fire recently, attributed largely to allegations of corruption in the CSL. This year, several countries – including Canada – were named as prime targets for high levels of match fixing by Federbet, a company responsible for monitoring the games for any suspicious activity.
In 2015, Federbet reported that European bookies removed “en bloc matches from leagues like Albania, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Indonesia and Canada — the 10th least corrupt country in the world — because they clearly reflect signs of being fixed.”
Insufficient legislation is being blamed for the ongoing suspicions surrounding the CSL. Some also point the finger at careless politicians who simply aren’t concerned enough to do anything about it.
Low-level sports leagues are often the target of match-fixing, not just because they don’t get much attention from the media or communities, but because the athletes aren’t being paid enough money to shrug off a bribe. The CSL is run by coaches because they love the game, not because they are getting rich from it. Even the payers walk away with, at most, a few hundred dollars in their pockets each week.
And with the globalization of gambling, there’s more reason than ever for criminal minds to look towards the CSL and other little-known athletic leagues to fix matches. Today, punters can place bets online fro the other side of the world.
By getting the right setup going, professional fixers can earn millions of dollars if they’re successful in fixing a match. It’s nothing new either – not to Canada, not to the CSL, and not to the authorities who tirelessly work to put a stop to it.
Back in 2009, a German law enforcement agency intercepted phone calls between match fixers that revealed the CSL was being heavily targeted. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that CSL wagers totaled more than twice that of comparable European leagues, where soccer is much more popular.
It’s been going on since long before the first internet-based sports bets were placed. And if no one in Canada is willing to look into it, amending the laws to thwart corrupt sports betting in Canada, it will continue to go on for years to come, devastating the integrity of the games and the athletes who play them.
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