Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report 2021 Published

Starlizard Integrity Services have released their fourth annual Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report, in conjunction with Stats Perform Integrity.

The report aims to provide fellow stakeholders in the sports integrity community with a significant and informative overview of current trends in suspicious football betting.

Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report 2021

Key findings of the 2021 Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report:

  • Detailed analysis was conducted on betting markets offered on 61,296 football matches played throughout the world in 2020. This is a 23% reduction in the number of matches analysed from the previous year’s report, which is due to the effect the Covid pandemic had on the number of fixtures played.
  • Despite concerns around the risks in football being increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 217 (0.35%) matches in 2020 were identified as suspicious, a reduction in both real and percentage terms from the 456 (0.56%) matches in last year’s report.
  • The proportion of suspicious matches peaked in the spring when betting focus was concentrated on friendly matches and lower profile competitions. However, in the autumn months, as fixture calendars returned to relative normality, proportions dropped to well below those of previous years. 
  • 42% of all suspicious matches were at the highest level of domestic football in the country in which they took place. 36% of suspicious matches took place at the second highest level of domestic football.
  • As with previous editions of the report, friendly matches continue to pose increased issues for football authorities. 1.19% of analysed friendlies were suspicious, an increase from 0.67% in last year’s report. Concerns around friendly matches are heightened when they take place in countries with increased risk of suspicious competitive matches.
  • Suspicious matches in women’s football continue to be increasingly rare, with only one identified amongst more than 3,700 matches analysed.  
  • A number of case studies have been identified where interventions by football authorities and law enforcement have preceded significant reductions in suspicious matches.
  • This is the third successive year that the overall proportion of suspicious matches has reduced and is over 50% less than our inaugural report from 2018 when there were 0.73% of matches identified as suspicious.

The Stats Perform Integrity and Starlizard Integrity Services teams worked together each using their own advanced in-house systems and analytical capabilities to examine the betting markets on every single match within the study.

The results are an in-depth analysis of key betting markets (Asian Handicap, 1X2 and Total Goals markets) on football matches, including domestic and international competitions, across 112 countries and 6 continents. Betting markets for all of the matches were heavily scrutinized, in real-time and retrospectively, in order to identify any suspicious betting. The outcome of the analysis identified betting markets associated with 217 matches to be suspicious.

This report looks in detail at these matches and compares the findings to those of previous years and analyses the effects of law enforcement action on match-fixing. The report also examines the most prominent locations, timings, tiers, and levels of competition where the suspicious betting occurred across youth, international, friendly and women’s matches.

Now in its fourth year the Global Football Report has now become an eagerly awaited publication for integrity stakeholders and seeks to provide valuable insight into the match-fixing risk facing the sport.

Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services: “The COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of football fixtures and the suspension of leagues around the world, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of games played during 2020. Worryingly, we have still identified over 200 games that are suspicious in terms of potential match manipulation, and that, we feel, warrant further investigation. Despite the more limited availability of matches due to the pandemic, this suggests that criminals have found new ways and new targets in their attempts to manipulate matches and the betting markets. It is imperative that all football stakeholders remain vigilant to the threat of match-fixing at all times and make adequate resources available to keep the sport clean, free from corrupt influence, and to ensure that football fans can enjoy watching an honest and fair game.”

Jake Marsh, Global Head of Integrity, Stats Perform: “After four years of publishing this report it is great to see that the analysis continues to generate fascinating insights for the sport’s governing bodies, integrity stakeholders, and fans alike. The risk of match-fixing never goes away and despite the reduction in fixtures in 2020 there was still a very high number of matches that we identified as suspicious and potentially linked to manipulation. 2020 was an exceptional year for football in how it was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will no doubt be understanding the long-term effects to the sport for several years. There are cautious signs for optimism in some areas, but the report shows the risk of match-fixing is ever present in football and those running the sport need to recognise this and ensure sufficient resources and tools are in place to protect the beautiful game.”

Please click HERE to download the report