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Top 5 most famous incidents of match-fixing in world football

Corruption in football is a disease that has unfortunately reared its ugly head more than once in recent years. Here we take a look at the top 5 most famous incidents of match-fixing in world football.

Last updated: 23.08.2022
Top 5 most famous incidents of match-fixing in world football

Corruption in football is a disease that has unfortunately reared its ugly head more than once in recent years, but the idea that one of the elite European leagues may have been involved in some kind of match-fixing is certainly a troubling thought. Sometimes, the truth comes out and those involved are punished. However, these punishments rarely serve as deterrents for clubs and players, as new match-fixing scandals keep surfacing.


5. Olympique de Marseille (1993)


Marseille notably won the UEFA Champions League in 1993, while picking up their fourth Ligue 1 title in a row. Dominating French football and consolidating their pole position in Europe suddenly looked pointless as Marseille were found guilty of match-fixing.

Bernard Tapie, former owner of Marseilles and Adidas, was discovered to have offered money to Valenciennes to lose against Marseilles. Tapie's intention was apparently to ensure that his team didn't have to deal with injury or lower conditioning in the finals of the Champions League.

Consequently, Marseilles were relegated to Ligue 2 and stripped of their Ligue 1 title win. Tapie himself was handed a lifetime ban from football.



4. Calciopoli (2006)


Italy has had its fair share of match-fixing scandals. The darkest hour in the history of Italian football, and the highest profile controversy in European football in the 21st century. One of the most popular, tagged as Calciopoli, occurred in 2006. Intercepted phone calls revealed that some teams had been in contact with referee organizations so they could select favorable referees. Teams in trouble included Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina.

The punishments saw club owners, referees and top club officials receive lengthy bans. Some, like former Fiorentina co-owner Andrea Della Valle and former Juventus director Luciano Moggi, were given prison sentences in addition to their football bans. Clubs received punishment as well, with Juventus relegated to Serie B and stripped of two Serie A titles.

Players like Fabio Cannavaro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided to leave Juventus after they were relegated. Nearly 35 international stars left Serie A after the scandal and moved to other leagues in Europe.


3. Totonero (1980)


This is yet another Italy-based match-fixing scandal that saw players like Italian World Cup winner Paolo Rossi led away from his dressing room in handcuffs. Rossi later rejoined the Italian national team and led the Azzurri to a World Cup win in 1982.

The massive scandal, termed Totenero by the Italian media, was uncovered when a newspaper discovered a match-fixing ring involving Lazio players. The heads of the ring were greengrocers in Italy's capital city, and the players were regulars in their establishment.

Milan and Lazio were relegated from Serie A, and over 20 players, club owners, and top club officials were given prison time. Unfortunately, this won't be the last time Italy is mentioned on this list.

2. West Germany vs Austria  (1982)

The match-fixing that took place during the group stages of the 1982 World Cup came as a shocker to world football. It was clear as day to anyone who watched the match, yet neither West Germany nor Austria was found guilty of any wrongdoing. FIFA officially said that no rules had been broken!. This may be a different example of match-fixing from everything else in this list, and while there were no punishments or investigations, this was blatant match-fixing being played out in front of the world.

A 1-0 win for West Germany would see both sides progress from the group stage at Algeria's expense. The Germans scored the needed goal within 10 minutes. Both teams quite literally passed the ball to each other for the entire duration of the game!

The resulting worldwide condemnation provoked FIFA to include a new rule for the final group games of tournaments, stating that all matches must be played simultaneously.



1. Bruce Grobbelaar (1994)


It's rare to find major match-fixing scandals in English football. That's what made former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar very popular when the Sun accused him of taking bribes to concede goals against Newcastle United. The former star was charged with match-fixing and sent to court.

To this day, he has maintained innocence and denied any wrongdoing. They had to go through two trials, but the juries failed to come to a conclusive verdict. It is believed that though he had accepted the bribes, he did not let in goals to fix the outcome of the match.


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