Friday, November 18, 2022

Bribery accusation

 One SportsBrief report today is accusing Qatar of having bribed Ecuadorian players to lose the opening matech between Qatar and Ecuador. The accusation appears grounded on a twitter account of one Amjad Taha, but it appears difficult to find further information on what the claim is based on.

The sad thing about this, which may not appear true, is that it remains entirely plausible that this could happen; Qatar probably paid to be hosts, so they could be considering bribing their way through the tournament.

And whoever believes that this is not possible at this level should read Declan Hill's exposure of match-fixing in football, which besides documenting match-fixing in the top European leagues, discusses match-fixing in the 2006 World Cup. So it is certainly possible.

However, there are reasons to be skeptical about the accusation, not just because the lack of documentation: firstly, why bribe many Ecuadorian players, one or more of whom could step out and reveal what was happening? Much easier would be to simply bribe a referee (something that Declan Hill documents is quite common), or  simply the goalkeeper to make one drop? Or just intimidate Ecuador by different means that do not need bribery? (something Qataris are probably good at). Furthermore, an accusation like this, appearing plausible, could be an elaborate way to get many people to make bets for Qatar to win, creating a distorted betting market, something that is often the case in football, and which is monitored for alleged bribes. 

Surely there is a lot of betting going on; billions moving around for this World Cup.

So I find this particular story to be implausible, although I find it plausible that it will happen in the World Cup, and that this is not the final accusation in a World Cup that should have never been awarded to these Qataris.

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