FIFA has announced on July 11 that it will be investigating remarks made by former Southampton captain Claus Lundekvam regarding illegal betting in the English Premier League. The 39-year-old, who played for the Saints from 1996 to 2008, claims that betting was common during the 1990s when team captains would collude with each other on things such as the first throw-in, corner kick, yellow card, or penalty etc.
Lundekvam, who played 40 internationals for Norway and over 350 matches for Southampton claimed that some aspects of the game were manipulated by players to win bets. He said it was common for players to make bets, but they’d never wager on the outcome of a match. He added that it was a part of the football lifestyle and players made bets of 100 or 1,000 pounds each just for the fun and excitements of it. He said that staff members of the clubs were given the money to place the bets for the players.
FIFA released a statement that said it will be monitoring the claims made by Lundekvam to see if there is any validity to them. The ex-player told a television station in Norway that the incidents took place in the late 1990s and continued into the early 2000s. He said he’s not proud that he was involved in it, but it took place just about every week and the players made a substantial amount of money on the scheme.
He claimed that it was easy to bet on parts of the games such as the first corners and throw-ins since players had control over that part of the game and it didn’t raise any suspicions. He admitted that the players’ betting was illegal but it was exciting and game results never entered the equation. However, Lundekvam’s statements have drawn the attention of FIFA as well as English football authorities and they’re taking them seriously.
Of course, if betting was rampant in the 1990s and early 2000s then it’s possible that players are still involved in it. And while Lundekvam said they never wagered on the outcomes of games, he admitted that penalties were sometimes bet on and they could indirectly affect results of matches. While some people are taking the former player’s statements as proof that illegal betting exists in the English Premier League, others feel Lundekvam is selling his story for money.
He is known to have had alcohol and drug problems at the end of his career and some people are dismissing his claims. But while he may have proof that illegal betting existed, it’s going to be hard for FIFA or anybody else to stop it from happening in nations where gambling is legal. Players simply have other people make the bets for them and then cash in if they can make them pay off.
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