The governing body of soccer, beach soccer and futsal in Australia, Football Australia, has been affiliated for decades with leading soccer competitions such as FIFA, AFF, as well as AFC. The body helps safeguard the integrity of games and monitors both amateur and international soccer competitions. But while monitoring is one thing, a report released by Four Corners suggests that Football Australia has been collecting funds by taking a cut from bets related to all levels of soccer events in Australia, including amateur competitions.
According to the governing body, collecting the funds and enabling wagering on low-tier events was a “strategy to maintain oversight and protect the game from potential integrity threats through information sharing.” Football Australia added: “We’re acutely aware of the potential risks and have a comprehensive integrity framework in place to manage these risks.”
The recent report suggests that the funds raised for Football Australia are collected via a secretive agreement with sports bodies and bookmakers. Reportedly, in some cases, sports governing bodies can collect up to 17.5% of the bookmakers’ profits from gamblers in Australia on such events.
Concerns about Match-Fixing
Oftentimes the payments are presented as product integrity fees, that can easily surpass millions of dollars annually. And while this makes sense for top-tier competitions, the report suggests that Football Australia receives a cut from betting action even for amateur club competitions by local teams.
Reportedly, Football Australia receives whichever is higher than 15% of the bookmakers’ profit or 1% of every bet for soccer games in Australia. In other words, the body can receive a percentage of the wager even if it is a losing bet for the bookmaker. The overall practice immediately raises concerns about the integrity of local games and the impact match-fixing may have on such events.
“There are people across the world that could be betting on our games that have got no idea who we are. There’s got to be a limit to it.“
Jim Simos, president of South Springvale FC
Jim Simos, the president of South Springvale FC, a local team consisting of non-professional players, explained that it is incredibly concerning to know that people may be placing bets on the team’s games. He deemed such actions as “disturbing” and said that a clear limit needs to be set for betting activities.
Moreover, Simos criticized Football Australia for not informing the South Springvale team about the dangers of match-fixing. He noted that the team hasn’t received training about the potential risk of match-fixing and how to deal with such integrity threats.