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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Holds Barred: Declan Hill on the Globalization of the Sports Corruption Industry 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with investigative journalist, documentary maker, and academic Declan Hill.

His new book, "The Insider's Guide to Match-Fixing in Football", has recently been published. In it, he details the latest information on the growing scourge of match-fixing in the world's most popular sport, football (known as soccer in North America), and discussed what can be done to stop it. The lessons in this can be applied directly to the combat sports, which have their own sordid history of corruption and bad governance.

We spoke with Declan Hill by phone Tuesday.

"What we've come to in the sports world is the globalization of the sports corruption industry," he said. "So, ten years ago, Goldman and Hill would be on the line and would be talking about fixing a boxing match or would be fixing a soccer game in some place. And much of the fixing would be constrained because there wouldn't be enough capacity to get cash down on a small boxing match or a small wrestling thing or a small soccer game.

He continued, "Now, the same phenomenon which has hit the music industry or the travel industry or practically any industry that your listeners can think of, has hit what I ironically call the sports corruption industry. So you have these criminals sitting in Singapore or Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, and they're planning fixing soccer games, ATP tennis, whatever you have, literally halfway around the world. And there's an enormous flow of money traveling around the world fixing these games."

He explained how the money being paid to fix these matches is an important part of the business plan of those sports organizations which are carrying out the fixing. He also discussed why this phenomenon of the globalization of the sports corruption industry has largely not reached North America, because of the sports "isolationism" which means that "nobody watches the sports you play" - yet. He predicted that this will change over the next five to ten years. And we discussed how all this applies to the combat sports, including boxing, wrestling, and MMA. We also discussed illegal and legal sports betting and their relation to match-fixing, the battle for better governance of sports organizations, the need for an international sports anti-corruption agency, and much more.

And towards the end of our discussion he said, "Eddie, thank you for your battle in trying to keep combat sports as clean as possible. It's very much appreciated."

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