Monday, 28 September 2015

A book I'll never write

Hi all,

I started this book a while back and even attempted to give the idea to Malcolm Gladwell. No dice as Malcolm was busy but his secretary did reply.

The premise is simple. There is a casino in Qatar where unlimited stakes are available. Nations can gamble their  entire economies if they wish.

There are five table table games (roulette, blackjack, poker, craps  and baccarat). Five nations, among others pony up. There are also five individualized back-stories. Whatever happens in the casino that night changes the lives of those people forever. A metaphor for real life?



And here is what I've done so far. I hand it over for anyone who has the time and the desire to write this properly! An idea is worth 5% so that's what I'd like if ever published!

Good luck:

Approximately three miles north of Doha city centre, Qatar, there lies a palace of exceptional pulchritude. Those fortunate enough to view it from a mile away have their breath taken away. Welcome to the Diwan Emiri Palace. But you are not welcome. Visitors are strictly prohibited even though the various artefacts and golden sculptures are enough to feed the eyes and mouths of the world.

Protected like an old fort, a moat is present in the form of an oasis. There is no portcullis but since no one makes it to the gates without permission – no need. If you had a strong pair of binoculars or a personal NASA satellite, you may be able to make out the separate rooms. Sometimes, his highness, Emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani resides there. Hamad arrives by helicopter; rides from room to room on his Segway; and will often take his private yacht out for trips. Hamad remembers that one must conquer by air, land and sea.

The Segway must be docked at the top of a forty feet flight of stairs. These steps lead to a place which many within the palace have never laid eyes on. A place so secret neither Hamad’s wives nor twenty three of his twenty four children have even peeked inside. Only two other Qataris have entered besides the cleaning staff and those who built it - Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad Al Thani – the serving Prime Minister of Qatar; and the Emir’s son Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar. Their names appear alike as the ruling family in Qatar are all descended from the ‘Al Thani’ family which itself was born out of the Banu Tamim.

The Emir (Sheik Hamad) has a good relationship with both his heir (Tamim) and country’s Prime Minister (Hamad bin Jassim); not least strengthened by the goings-on in this very room.

Sheik Hamad walks over to the retina scanner located within a panel which can only be activated using his palm. He enters a room so preposterously adorned, he is almost ashamed. He knows that its contents could go some way to solving poverty in sub-Saharan Africa but also understands that it is needed. Money is power; and the exudation of the latter leads to more power. Then why, he asks himself, does no one else see this room. سيفعلون – ‘They will’.

His Eminence is granted access and takes in his surroundings. Straight ahead, $250 million dollars’ worth of painting hangs on the wall. A Cezzane – The Card Players. An oil canvas paid for by a country which owes its fortune to the original source. The irony is lost on Sheik Hamad who stares intently at the masterpiece. He didn’t bid for it himself but was instrumental in its coming to Qatar. No budget was assigned for the Cezzane previously owned by the shipping magnate George Embiricos. G.P.S. a high-class intermediary bidding service were instructed to bring the painting to Qatar by all means necessary. They managed this after a brief battle with two art collectors, William Acquavella and Larry Gagosian.

Sheik Hamad studies the painting as usual, marvelling at both its simplicity and complexity. His second wife, Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned once commented “what is all the fuss about?”, but she could never understand without seeing it up close. It was in fact their eldest daughter Sheikha Mayassa who had championed the idea of bringing history’s greatest paintings to Qatar. This particular painting was the embodiment of Qatar’s history and future progress. Two ensconced gentlemen are playing cards but interestingly only look at their own hand. Qatar is not concerned with other nations’ wealth. Qatar is destined to be the richest country and to do this must simply worry about its own accumulation. Sheik Hamad can even see a slight resemblance between himself and the left player, though he is French.

Sheika Mayassa did not care to look at the artwork. Sheik Hamad however had plans for his hideaway. On the north wall, Cezanne’s rival, Edvard Munch was competing for the attention of the room. The Scream in pastel was purchased for a mere $137 million, including dealer fees, but is actually the better creation in its owner’s eyes. Ah – if only Munch had made just one. Then it would be on par with the Mona Lisa.

The western wall is not nearly as holy as its namesake since it holds a modern creation - Mark Rothko’s White Center. Sheik Hamad believes this to be the worst of the four buys since $72.8 million was paid, but it has a place on the wall. Whilst Qatar should only care about its own progress, the Western World will be present for the foreseeable future. This painting, he was told by Mayassa, is sensual and spiritual. There is unity and discord. Sheik Hamad is an intelligent man and thinks these descriptions are nonsense. Nevertheless, this pipped Bacon’s Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X as the latter image might scare those who view it.

You will not believe the painting framed on the eastern wall - the holiest of the four. Sheik Hamad can hardly believe it himself. The fact that the world does not know the painting was ever sold is a testament to his unwillingness to show his wares. He is satisfied with having brought the pinnacle of the art world to Qatar. When Sheik Hamad met with François Hollande, an offer was made which couldn’t be refused. $7 billion. Enough for 60 hospitals, a meal of some sorts for every person in the world or, more extravagantly, 1750 Bugati Veyron 16.4 Super Sports (the world’s most expensive car). Yes, Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece which took three years to paint, Mona Lisa was in the building.

The room has five tables, each made entirely of gold. The purity of the gold cannot be questioned. Not only are they 999.96 Tola-stamped gold bars, they are imprinted with the seal of Sheik Hamdan himself. The gold was approved by the Central Bank of Qatar’s governor – Abdallah bin Saud Al Thani.

These tables are where the action takes place. Speaking of which, there are private bedrooms yet to be slept in, accessed only through secret passages.

For this is the world’s most exquisite, underground casino ever built. Only these three men have ever used it but not for long. Soon its doors would open to a group of selected heavy-hitters who would make Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods look like two school-kids playing ‘penny up the wall’. 


Of course she wanted to be a figure skater for as long as she could remember. Svetty’s mother had planted the seed along with a diamante-encrusted pair of skates for her fourth birthday. Svetty, as she was referred to by all, no longer knew if skating was her passion – she had been brainwashed. There were some aspects she enjoyed but Svetty danced to her mother’s tune. And yet, Harriet Rukasenkova could never afford the luxury she wanted, nay, needed her daughter to enjoy. Her daughter had shown some promise on the local lakes in Omsk during the winter, the ice on which was so thick, even a cautious mother needn’t have worried – and nurture had taken its course.
Svetty, at the age of thirteen had grown to five feet nothing. With a short-haired bob and unfortunate, slightly man-ish features, she did not attract too much attention from the local anything. But as a skater, Svetty was something. No, Svetlana Rukazenkova was a prodigy – a blind Beethoven; Red Rum found in a field; or Kim Peek – the original rainman. Without a single paid hour of coaching, Svetty could figure skate for Russia. Her triple-axel was so graceful, the particles of ice, shaved off by the blades, spoke to each other and softly collapsed on the ice, laying the groundwork for a soft landing.
Svetty, with her mother controlling even her thought process, dreamed of skating for her country. But no matter how many hours her father clocked in the local steel mill, there would never be enough roubles. Competitions cost money. They were free of charge, open to all but one needed the gear. A streamlined lycra body-suit cost two days’ wages; a coach twenty days; and international travel cost two hundred. Svetty and her mother knew she had what it took because on the one occasion people had flocked to their village in Omsk for a local rally, the crowd had been mesmerised. The literal meaning. People were walking into each other and even slipping over. But Svetty didn’t. However, the local fame never spread, particularly because Harriet never asked for help. She would never beg for anything even if it was a means to an end. People would watch the girl be flipped in the air by an imaginary partner unsure if they were watching skating, dance or gymnastics. In fact, they were watching all three. With no television and therefore moves to mimic, Svetty invented her own bag of tricks – difficulty rating infinity. In fact, one particular movement had never even been attempted in international competition. Skating at full-pace, Svetty leaned forward with her left arm outstretched, right behind her back and front-flipped, landing on her left leg, bring the right down fast as if about to attempt a back-somersault. The force generated would ordinarily lead to a loss of balance but Svetty would ride it out every time. She had to. It was pretty dangerous – and Harriet was watching.
Svetty existed but she could hardly say she’d lived, not that she was prone to talking about her feelings. Home schooled by Harriet, who only had basic Russian grammar and mathematics herself, Svetty felt herself questioning her mum’s interpretation of the cold war. Whilst her mother was patriotic, she lacked any real knowledge and Svetty’s imaginary grades began to drop. But her skating ability improved at a similar rate.
The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was the goal. She would be in her prime age-wise though experience-wise, some foetuses had more exposure to competitive skating. Talent aside, it would take a series of improbable events for Harriet’s goal (for her daughter) to be realised. Meanwhile, the first component was already in transit.

On a typically frozen summer morning in 2013, a slender, well groomed man got off the train at Omsk station. He had seven bosses ahead of him and was therefore nobody special in the sports agency world. Ruslan Timoshenko - part Russian, part Uzbek from the new era was a young man who knew almost nothing about ice-skating. However, a gambler by pastime, Ruslan was always willing to take a risk.  A man from Svetty’s home town, Magomed Adiev, had travelled to Vladikavkaz, where Ruslan lived and they quickly became friends. The man spoke for hours about his ‘billion rouble ideas’ but as of yet nothing had come to fruition.
‘I’ve been keeping this one back Rusty this whole time’, Magomed said with an almost flirtatious smile.
‘Go on Mag. What is it this time? A bullet-proof vest that is a duvet and a portable tent? Maybe you’ve improved on your pen-umbrella combination? Time Travel? Oooo I hope it’s time travel!
‘You sarcastic son of a whore. I’m helping you out here.’
‘Ok! I’m listening. Hit me.’
‘Svetlana Rukasenkova. I know for a fact you’ve never heard of her. No one has. She’s a figure skater from my own town. I know I am prone to exaggeration but I think she could be, or already is the greatest skater the world has ever seen.’
‘Tell me more.’ Rusty was genuinely intrigued.
‘You can see for yourself. I know where she’ll be and at what time.’
‘Are you stalking her?!’
‘Don’t be so stupid. Svetty and her mother Harriet are on the lakes every single day without fail, honing her craft. There is what you might call a local buzz but this my friend is an untapped resource. Go over there and see for yourself.’
‘I actually work with one figure skater. More trouble than she’s worth. That bitch is sleeping with her coach and wants to earn for the both of them. Only problem is, she’s useless. Got a bronze three years ago but there’s more chance of me getting one this year!’
There was a silence as both men began to day-dream.
‘And what would you like for this tip my friend?’
‘A five percent finder’s fee on all future earnings. Nothing up front. A modest request wouldn’t you say.
‘I’m not going to haggle with you. But if she turns out to be a three-legged swine, I’m billing you for half my expenses. There is no way my bosses will sanction this trip on their dime.’
‘Best to leave your company out of this altogether. She doesn’t need a management team – just you. You won’t be wanting to share any of her future profits when she becomes a global superstar.’
‘What does she look like?’
‘She’s no oil painting.’
‘This sounds like a disaster.’
‘Take a punt.’
‘You know I will’
‘Which is why I came to you. Good luck and remember. Go easy with the mother. She’s a little bit prickly. She needs help but doesn’t like charity.’
Ruslan, from the (relatively) warm comfort of his two bedroom apartment in Kirovsk, St Petersburg, had done some extra research on ice-skating. He had compiled a list of extremely difficult manoeuvres to test this apparent prodigy.
‘I’ve never heard of it’, Harriet replied when asked if her daughter could perform a Toeless Lutz. After brief introductions which included a glass of hot water and a tasteless biscuit, the three of them had walked from their barn to the ‘rink’.
‘Well it’s a well-recognised move in competitions.’
‘Explain it to me and Svetlana will do it. 100%.’
Ruslan proceeded to explain the steps involved. Before he could finish, Svetty backed away like any professional skater would do and performed Ruslan’s instruction to absolute perfection followed by her signature front-flip into a triple axel.
Ruslan, not one for messing about simply stated ‘I’ve seen enough’ and motioned for Harriet to move inside for grown-up discussions. Harriet had braced herself for this day but knew she wasn’t in a position to make outrageous demands. This man could walk away and it might be another ten years before someone else arrived with the power to make things happen. She would let him talk.
‘Here is my offer…’ Ruslan was a good man and this was going to be a cheap buy. There was no need to play hardball.
‘I will take Svetlana to St Petersburg and she will stay in a hotel for a month. During this time, she will participate in a series of minor trials. If she’s good enough, which appears to be the case, she will go for the national trials to secure a place on the Olympic team. For this part, you should be there also. I will pay Svetlana 5000 roubles per week, until she begins to earn herself, and take care of expenses. What she chooses to do with the money is her choice. The contract is valid for a minimum of five years and I receive 20% of all earnings. After I stop paying Svetlana a salary, it is clearly in my interest for her to earn money from competitions. What do you say?’
‘I say that we should ask Svetty. Svetty!! Come here!’
Harriet outlined the terms with clear pressure for Svetlana to accept the terms. Within an hour, Ruslan and Svetlana were on their way to Kirovsk.
‘I feel free’, Svetlana beamed.
‘It’s a bit of a prison there I must say.’
‘You wouldn’t even believe it. I haven’t had a good meal since father died. He used to make the most beautiful Solyanka!’
‘I’m sorry about that but we’ll soon fix that. I know a very nice steak place!’
Each playing card in the deck cost $20,000. With 52 cards, the set was worth over a million dollars. A painter XXXXX specialising in fine materials, used lapis lazuli extract to cover each gold plated card. The set took four months to complete and would be carried over in person from XXXX to the palace.
Thombi Gemima lived in a place which many more privileged people would deem a shithole. In fact, the garden contained the only toilet and it was far from pleasant. Thombi knew no better life but he didn’t enjoy a good shit like he used to. Now there were at least 17 different diseases filling the ether waiting to pounce. Thombi knew enough biology to know what food produced faeces more regularly. XXXX, a known constipation-enforcer, became his favourite food. 
Mafeteng, Lesotho is one of the poorest places on earth within civilisation. Ok, so Thombi’s family grew their own food, had one rabbit and just enough shelter for  normal night’s sleep; but what he didn’t have was hope. Life was a prison sentence as money had no way of entering Thombi’s household bar a miracle. Thombi’s father, Chista, was a drunk, a proper drunk. He brewed his own moonshine called ‘Joala’ in Gerry cans and washed away his troubles every day. Chista wasn’t wasting the family money as none existed. Thombi used to watch his dad stumble back their house and actually feel a little jealousy. Whilst Thombi went to school, university was an impossibility. Therefore, he was learning enough to know there was a better world out there but he had neither the resources nor the know-how to exit the wilderness. Chista was wasting his life but Thombi would be him in 25 years, just less inebriated.
But hopes and dreams are different. A hope necessitates a realistic chance of a particular event in the future happening. If it happens, great, if not, so be it. A dream is far more unrealistic. It will inevitably never be achieved but for some reason it hurts all the more. Thombi used to dream of a force dragging him away from this waste of life.
Thombi’s mother had to suffer many woes, not least her aforementioned drunkard of a husband. She loves her five children equally but there was something different about Thombi. There was at least a possibility of him making it out the ghetto. Lole prayed every night to the being she believed to be god that Thombi would save her family from total despair. Eating the same food over and over again (millet and plantain) had naturally taken its toll on her health and her willingness to go on. People often say that you don’t need money to be happy. But the people saying are either rich or are infinitely rich when compared to the Gemima family. The tables in life and fucking tilted. The Gimamas happened to be born on the wrong side of the world. If one of Lole’s ancestors had got on the right boat or one of Chista’s bloodline had walked one extra mile and joined the army, life may have been different.
Thombi jogged home from school as was his wont. Best to keep fit just in case that dream of going for an Olympic run came true. In his way were three large guys around his age in his path. Thombi had to slow down as he was going to collide with at least one them; they were holding firm like a good rugby defence or a police car-chase trip wire. But stopping was his mistake. This gave the three hoodlums the time to surround Thombi who hadn’t the slightest idea of why they would want to attack him. The first shot he blocked with forearms but he held the motion for two long. The largest lad swung full force and landed flush in Thombi’s ribs. Standing at 6”1 and weighing in a shade under 200 (though he’d never weighed himself), the force was not enough to bring him down. It was his own weight that cost him though. The smallest boy leg-swept him and connected shin to heel.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

AIDS, Malcolm Gladwell & Match-Fixing?!

Many bloggers on corruption and match-fixing in sport have used the latest FIFA scandal to write about what we all knew already. Football is sick. To quote the 18th Century American Politician Patrick Henry, ‘The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.’ We can stretch this quote to apply to two sets of people – the footballers who never received the money, training and supplies from their ‘rulers’ and the football fans, particularly in those countries suffering from corruption, cheated out of the football their countrymen are capable of, if given what they are entitled to (or willing) and even thought to be receiving. But I’d like to talk about theory. To understand why things happen is far more important than documenting what has happened though I greatly enjoy the history of match-fixing, books on which I have commented on.

But who is the Plato of match-fixing? Who is the Keynes of corruption? To my knowledge, there is no one. So why not take the musings of one very smart fellow and apply his theories to match-fixing?

Malcolm Gladwell has written many books on topics such as outliers, randomness and also why things happen. His 2000 novel The Tipping Point, his debut book, attempted to explain, through anecdotes, why things happen. There is a method behind the seeming madness of sociological change. Ideas, products and messages are said to spread like viruses do.

A ‘tipping point’ is described as ‘the moment of critical mass’. It could be argued that now in 2015 we are at the tipping point of match-fixing – both its enactment and its interest from the world. Sport has been in existence for thousands of years and therefore the opportunity for match-fixing has always existed. Indeed, Eupolos of Thessaly, in 388 BC bribed his opponents to lose to him at boxing; in 1919, the Black Sox Scandal occurred with eight players accepting bribes so that heavy gamblers could profit; in 1964, we had the first major soccer betting scandal; but since 2004, there has been the Hoyzer Affair, Calciopoli and Calcioscommesse, myriad accusations and arrests in almost every South-East Asian country; Africa and South America are black holes of fixing and match-fixing even reached second tier Australian ‘local football’. And that’s just football. Horse racing, trotting, cricket, snooker, handball, boxing, tennis, futsal and darts take the number of cases to well over 300. The ones you know about at least.

But it’s the medium through which we see these stories through that has changed. Word of mouth, newspapers, online news, blogs, twitter, youtube (so we can see the fixing on the field) and more, means there is match-fixing content somewhere every minute, every day being uploaded or read.

Are we really at a tipping point or is it just that increased technology makes it appear so? I would certainly say so based off the increases in cases alone. The fact that stories about match-fixing do not even now explain what match-fixing is, is a testament that we - the people - know. In addition, the thousands of stories, sometimes individualised and written about by different authors show the level of interest in countries across the world. Next, the number of social media comments relating to match-fixing is increasing. Even commentators and celebrities are starting to mention it, albeit veiled, whilst they describe the match action. Match-fixing is occurring in new countries (i.e. countries which didn’t even exist before), new countries whose sport is offered for betting and match-fixing is being carried out by more and more different people from all walks of life – organised crime, long-time fixers, petty criminals, chancers, former professionals (who know the inner workings of the game) – from different nationalities across the world. If someone had said that a case would emerge whereby Zambians and Georgians were fixing football matches in Lapland, Finland, at the behest of a Singaporean; or Malaysians would kill the floodlights in a Premier League game for profit, he’d be carted off to the loony bin. But it happened and these stories have not only sparked interest worldwide, but has also led to new match-fixers attempting to one-up the godfathers of fixing.

Match-fixing is an epidemic. Whereas SARS or even street riots get boring, match-fixing grows more interesting the more we know.

Gladwell cites three rules of epidemics. These three rules are fundamental to tipping points.

The Law of the Few

Gladwell states it takes three subsections of the larger populus to create an epidemic – connectors, salesmen and mavens. Since we are discussing either a) the spread of match-fixing (its enactment) or b) its discussion, these three subsections are incredibly easy to locate.

Connectors: These people know everybody and without them, the spread of match-fixing could not occur. These are the bookmaker agents and bookmaker entities across the world. These connect match-fixers to sport, a lot more than often unwittingly. Without being able to ‘get a bet down’, the match-fixer cannot possibly operate. If betting did not exist, match-fixing would only occur for sporting purposes and this is not a sustainable business for the fixer. I have spoken before about gambling and the problems with banning it. Gambling will exist forever for two reasons. 1) We are primates and when we have three oranges, we want four. Stocks and bonds have existed long without professional sport or even the internet to facilitate ‘action’; and 2) gambling has and will always make sport more enjoyable. So, I am not blaming the bookmakers! But, their worldwide connections, the famous ‘Hawala’ system of payout and wide offering of different sports and markets, makes them essential to the spread of match-fixing. And yet, due to them being at the epicentre, bookmakers could, in my opinion, do more to prevent this spread of match-fixing.

Salesmen: The godfathers of match-fixing are all from Singapore. At least 25% of match-fixing has occurred either directly because of Wilson Raj Perumal, Rajendran Kurusamy and Dan Tan Seet Eng or because new fixers read about their exploits. These men sell match-fixing to the players, the coaches, the referees and even sometimes to federations. Whereas bookmakers survive, nay fare better, without match-fixing, it is in match-fixers’ interests for manipulation to flourish. And, with the increase in awareness and the punishments becoming harsher, these salesmen have had to sharpen their skills to continue their line of business. In 2013, Eric Ding Si Yang, famously offered prostitutes to willing referee Ali Sabbagh; the fixers will also now offer more secrecy and also more money. They must continue selling the match-fixing dream to those greedy, disillusioned, foolish or arrogant enough who might be tempted to accept.

Mavens: This is me and you. Every uploader of a match-fixing compilation; every author of a tweet saying ‘it’s rigged’; every blogger; every author of the match-fixing books stored in my library; anyone who calls the referee a cheating bastard. Actually, let’s not get carried away. Mavens are actually few and far between but the informed now speak to a very large audience. It is these mavens who actually sift through the nonsense, the drivel and the bias to explain the complex matter of match-fixing to the masses. Regular readers of my blog will know who these people and entities are. The mavens are six or seven years ahead in knowledge of those who presume to know about this niche of sport; and therefore, they can provide context, deep insight and truth to match-fixing. When the bias has been sieved, what’s left is an incredibly complex and interesting history which in turns leads to wider interest.

Since we are at the zenith of connectors (undeniably), salesmen (indisputably) and mavens (undoubtedly), we can tick off Gladwell’s first rule of tipping points. Match-fixing passes ‘The Law of the Few’.


The second prerequisite of a tipping point is ‘stickiness’. Simply put, you can have a product, event or pastime which is championed by the connectors, salesmen and mavens, but the buzz will die if the characteristics of the thing lead to the audience being bored or it is simply not sustainable to reach and surpass a tipping point. In truth, stickiness appears to be somewhat unquantifiable and prone to survivorship bias (i.e. something is sticky because it stuck’). So, this rule is a little more subjective but bear with me. I contend that match-fixing is stickier than the bedsheets in a Leicester City hotel room in Thailand (I actually found this story disgraceful but it was a good line!). Firstly, to the audience, particularly if they are gamblers, match-fixing can now be called upon to excuse a loss; also, celebrity sportsmen such as Hansie Cronje, Chris Cairns, Manny Pacquiao (fight vs. Bradley - judge), Kieron Fallon, Ander Herrera, Nikolai Davydenko and John Higgins have either been accused of, convicted of or associated with match-fixing. In addition, to the match-fixers, their chosen profession is proven to be sticky by the amazingly long careers of Rajendran Kurusamy, Wilson Raj Perumal and Dan Tan Seet Eng. Indeed, at the ripe old age of 67, Kurusamy was recently picked up for attempting to fix the SEA Games. This is a man who went to prison for match-fixing 20 years ago! One can cite many reasons for why fixers love fixing. The buzz, the lack of barriers to entry, the lack of relatively harsh penalties and of course the money!

The Power of Context

The third key constant in any tipping point is the environment. Say a growing epidemic has the people spreading the word (connectors, salesmen and mavens), the product, event or pastime is ‘sticking with the masses’, but the atmosphere is wrong or the ‘wave’ arrived ahead of its time, the tipping point of critical mass is never realised. It blows over like so many fads before. One example of a poor environment for match-fixing would be extremely high wages of players and officials. In actual fact, the current environment for match-fixing could not be more perfect.

1)    The wages are low across a large number of sports including football. This is the key environmental issue.
2)    Sports are offered for betting with the players hailing from countries where corruption is embedded.
3)    The penalties for match-fixing are still low enough to entice match-fixers.
4)    Organised crime is now firmly embedded within sport; one could argue it is at an all-time high. Players are now the drug mules and match-fixing is the invisible product – untraceable to but the savviest of sniffer dogs.
5)    There is a convoluted mixture of legal, ‘grey’ and illegal bookmakers, creating confusion (particularly in jurisdictional matters). Many bookmakers are also now sponsoring sports teams and competitions. They are never out of sight, almost encouraging fixers to ply their craft.
6)    Bitcoin is for all intents and purposes completely anonymous and therefore perfect for match-fixing payments
7)    There are now a hundred stories of successful match-fixes with the profits readily available to view.
8)    The different social media applications means the spread of match-fixing commentary (as well as approaches by fixers) is easier and more effective than it’s ever been.

One of the largest and most deathly epidemics in human existence is AIDS. And whilst match-fixing cannot be compared to AIDS in gravity, the resemblances are uncanny and its spread and the methods to combat it can lead us in the right direction regarding match-fixing.

Match-fixing will be the death of football. If 100% of games are fixed, football will no longer exist just as AIDS would have done serious damage had the condom not been invented or education prioritised.

AIDS is on the decline. One can support this with any number of statistics:

Globally, the number of new HIV infections continues
to fall. There were 2.3 million new HIV infections
[1.9 million–2.7 million] in 2012. This is the lowest number
of annual new infections since the mid-to-late 1990s,
when approximately 3.5 million [3.3 million–4.1 million]
people were acquiring HIV every year.[1]

The number of new HIV infections has declined globally by 21% since the estimated peak of the epidemic in 1997[2]

The drop in new HIV infections is most pronounced among
children. From 2001 to 2012 the number of children
newly infected with HIV dropped by 52%––from 550 000
[500 000–620 000] in 2001 to 260 000 [230 000–320 000]
in 2012[3]

I will leave the reasons for the spread of AIDS to Gladwell or an epidemiologist. But the reasons for its decline are more interesting – as each and every one has a parallel with the potential solutions to match-fixing.

·         Education (tailored match-fixing education)
·         Increased resources and political leadership (governments to play an active role in combatting match-fixing such as New Zealand)
·         The Condom (technology)
·         Treatment (how to deal with a fixer)

Gladwell explained to the masses why epidemics occur; he certainly did not have match-fixing in mind. That his rules transfer so seamlessly to match-fixing is a testament to how much match-fixing is (an ignored) epidemic. And yet, the solutions are there once we treat it like a virus and not the elephant in the room.