Pete Rose and the Biggest Sports Betting Scandals of All-Time
Sports betting is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May of 2018 has cleared the way for individual states to decide whether to regulate and legalize wagering on sports. In light of the decision, professional sports leagues in the U.S. have already started to embrace the expanding world of sports betting.
Unfortunately, the expansion of the industry also lends itself to increased risk for potential trouble. Just this week, police in Spain announced that they have arrested a number of people believed to be involved in a massive match-fixing operation in connection with the top divisions of Spanish soccer. A number of current and former La Liga players were implicated in the matter.
Obviously, match-fixing is a very real concern when it comes to the integrity of sports leagues all over the world. While these kinds of cases are fairly rare, there have been some high-profile sports betting scandals.
In light of the breaking news regarding the La Liga scandal in Spain, let’s take a look at some of the biggest match-fixing scandals the sports world has ever seen.
Nikolay Davydenko is a former Russian pro tennis player. Davydenko rose all the way up to No. 3 among men’s players in the world back in 2006, though he retired without ever having won a Grand Slam event. He reached the semifinals of the French Open and U.S. Open twice apiece, but never advanced to a Grand Slam final.
In August of 2007, the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) launched an investigation into potential match-fixing in connection with Davydenko’s match against Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland.
After Davydenko took the first set, 6-2, a number of large wagers were placed on Arguello to win the match at the British bookmaker, Betfair. Davydenko wound up withdrawing from the match in the third set due to a foot injury. While Davydenko had lost in the first round in each of his three previous events, Betfair still believed it was strange that so much money was coming in on Arguello to win after Davydenko had won the first set and showed no signs of injury.
Betfair notified the ATP of the bets, which caused ATP to launch an investigation into potential wrongdoing. The investigation revealed that nine individuals from Russia had bet about $1.5 million on Arguello to win, while two other people would net a total of $6 million on Davydenko losing. A total of $7 million was reportedly wagered on the match, which was about 10 times the amount normally wagered on a similar match. The bets were voided due to their unusual nature.
After a year-long investigation, both Davydenko and Arguello were cleared of having had anything to do with potential match-fixing. However, just a few months later, Davydenko was handed a violation from chair umpire Jean-Philippe Dercq, who believed that Davydenko was not giving his best effort during a match against Marin Cilic. The ATP fined Davydenko $2,000 for the incident, but the fine was later rescinded after Davydenko filed an appeal.
Davydenko retired from the game a few years later, but questions remain regarding his potential involvement in match-fixing.
The Calciopoli Scandal
Back in 2006, Italian authorities uncovered a sports scandal involving Serie A champions Juventus as well as a number of other high-profile clubs. The police revealed a number of telephone conversations that took place between team managers and Italian referee organizations. The scandal involved teams colluding in an effort to select favorable referees to call certain matches with an eye on fixing results.
During the 2005-06 season, Juventus general managers Antonio Giraudo and Luciano Moggi engaged in conversations with officials in the Italian football association in an attempt to influence certain referee appointments. Stefano Palazzi, the lead prosecutor of the Italian Football Federation, called for the implicated clubs to be removed from Serie A, the top division of Italian soccer.
Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina, and Milan were all implicated in the scandal. Palazzi called for all four clubs to be relegated into Serie B for the following season. He also wanted Juventus to be stripped of their 2004-05 league title. Reggina, the other club involved in the scandal, was eventually issued a 15-point penalty, but they were not forced to move down to Serie B. The club was also fined about $100,000.
Juve wound up being the only club relegated to Serie B. They were docked nine points at the beginning of the season, a punishment which was designed in order to make it difficult for them to earn promotion back into the top flight. Despite the fact that their relegation led to the departures of key players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fabio Cannavaro, Juventus went on to win Serie B that season.
Moggi wound up receiving a lifetime ban from soccer, while Giraudo was handed a five-year suspension.
Austria vs. West Germany (1982 FIFA World Cup)
The World Cup is the most popular sporting event on the planet, but even the most popular event is not immune to the potential for scandal. While this particular case wasn’t necessarily as scandalous as some other match-fixing events, the 1982 match between West Germany and Austria certainly raised some eyebrows.
West Germany knew it needed a win over Austria in the final match of the group stage in order to advance through to the knockout stages of the 1982 World Cup. Germany had been shockingly beaten 2-1 by Algeria earlier in the round, and the Algerians had gone on to win their last group stage match over Chile.
A 1-0 win would be enough to advance, so the Germans came out aggressively against Austria. Horst Hrubesch found the back of the net for the Germans 10 minutes in, but the action stopped there. With Austria also already having secured advancement into the next round, both teams sat back into a defensive style for the remaining 80 minutes of the match. The game ended 1-0 in favor of West Germany. A West Germany victory by three or more goals would have resulted in Austria’s ouster from the tournament, and it was clear that both sides agreed to take a conservative approach to the game in order to ensure that both would advance at Algeria’s expense.
The Algerian Football Association wound up filing an official protest, but technically no rules were broken during the match, so FIFA’s hands were tied.
However, the matter did lead FIFA to change the rules so that the final World Cup group stage matches all take place simultaneously in an attempt to prevent it from happening again.
Tim Donaghy is a former NBA referee that used his job in order to try and influence the outcomes of games. A 2007 FBI investigation concluded that Donaghy had allegedly wagered on games that he was working as an official during his last few seasons in the league. Donaghy allegedly made calls that affected point spread and point totals in those games, and in August of ‘07, he pleaded guilty to two counts in relation to the investigation.
According to ESPN, Donaghy reportedly placed several bets worth tens of thousands of dollars on games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 NBA seasons in connection with several other mob associates. Donaghy had reportedly accrued quite a bit of gambling debt, and he engaged in these activities to try and pay his way out.
Former NBA commissioner David Stern subsequently banned all NBA referees from engaging in gambling activity of any kind during their time as employees of the league, even if the gambling had nothing to do with sports.
Pete Rose Scandal
Pete Rose is Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in hits (4,256). However, Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 after it was revealed that he had bet on games during his time as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was accused of initially placing bets on games on March 21, 1989.
An investigation into Rose’s alleged sports betting activities revealed that he bet on 52 Reds games during the 1987 season alone. Rose allegedly bet a minimum of $10,000 on each game, though some involved believe the number was closer to about $2,000 per game.
Rose initially denied all allegations against him, but he accepted his permanent placement on the league’s ineligible list. As a result, Rose is banned from working in Major League Baseball, and he is ineligible for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose has tried repeatedly to get his ban overturned, but to this point, his efforts have been unsuccessful.