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on 15 March 2013
I have often said "the referee is bought" during football games to the amusement of many friends. It is funny, but I have always meant it as only half a joke; there is no doubt that the bribing of referees in football matches has happened at the highest level. Notable examples are the semifinal of the UEFA Cup in 1984, where Anderlecht had paid the referee, who gave them a dubious penalty and disallowed a clear goal to win the match, as well as the scandal of referee Robert Hoyser in Germany in 2005, as well as the bribing of referees in the 2006 Italian match fixing scandal.
All these cases are mentioned and examined in Declan Hill's good but somewhat depressing book about match-fixing in football.
Depressing because, as Mr. Hill himself mentions in the book, all football fans like myself would rather not know about this. We keep living in an ideal world, defending poor refereeing (even when we demand TV to help out referees, some people say that the game should allow for referee mistakes. After reading this: should we also allow for purposeful "mistakes"?) as well as idealizing players and the ideals of fair play in the game.
Surely most people involved in football are dignified and fair people, but we are still blinded to the fact that some players have known to be corrupt, as Mr. Hill documents. Lack of income, clubs without money, and the sheer funds involved in gambling make the possibility of match fixing way to real, even at the highest level. While he never definitely proves fixing of matches at the 2006 World Cup (and this is a weakness in the book as one cannot help but feel that he has stretched his argument), the insinuations are there that one cannot help but be sad about it.
While the author looks at match fixing in Asia, Europe (Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and Finland are just some examples where he documents massive fixing within the last 20 years) and in the World Cup. It would be interesting if he had also looked at South America, and even more deeply into Spain, where many clubs in deep economic crises seem to have fertile ground for match fixers to operate.
But the sad truth is that either there is too much money (and thus power) in fixing and too little interest in destroying the dream of "the beautiful game" for authorities to take real action against the problem. According to Mr. Hill, there is even implicit complicity by football authorities by refusing to investigate cases as one he mentions taking place during the 2007 Women's World Cup or by giving administrative positions to people who have been known to be involved in match fixing.
Although really depressing, the book ends with a positive note, where Mr. Hill uses the case of football in the poorest and most violent neighborhoods of Nairobi, Kenya, to show that football in spite of it all still can bring a lot of positive with it.
Still, a good book, with its flaws, that should help football fans to open their eyes to some sad realities in the beautiful game.
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on 26 February 2014
5 of 5 Starts.
Being interested in sport and betting, "The Fix" is a must read. I can only confirm that Declan Hill really seem to know what he is writing about and backing up his material with several eye-opening references. I will not spoil the reading just mention that this book is a real page-turner. Everyone will learn something and be able to take something from this book. Declan Hill's "The Fix" and Andrew Jennings "Lord of the Rings" are truly the top-titles when we talk about the darker sides of our beloved sports.
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on 24 March 2017
A real eye opener
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on 26 December 2012
I read this book with an open mind and found it very interesting. It was recommended to me and although I roughly knew the subject matter I still couldn't put it down.

Like any billion dollar industry, you have to expect for corruption to be prevalent in soccer. The question is to what level and where is it found? I think most fans of the sport can handle it being found in footballing 'backwaters', far away from their most popular leagues and tournaments. Far East Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe? Fine, as long as it's not in the biggest leagues and the World Cup.

But Declan Hill suggests that the World Cup was targeted and if you read his blog - howtofixasoccergame.com - then you would have read a few months ago that the Ghana goalkeeper from the 2006 World Cup Richard Kingson confirm he was approached by fixers during the tournament, something he denied back in 2006. Due to the figures involved and those targeted, poorly paid officials and players, and the lack of proper match-fixing prevention methods that the soccer authorities (FIFA/UEFA) use, not enough is done to tackle the problem, preferring to bury their heads in the sand. Or worse.

If you read this book in the hope to hear tabloid accusations of the biggest teams and players bribing each other out in the open then you might be disappointed. But if you want to hear of the process of how to fix a game, who is involved and what are the targets and tall tell signs, then this is a book you should read. In fact, I think anyone with interest in the sport should look to read this.
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on 12 August 2010
I thought this book would be good based on the subject matter. Seriously disappointed. Hats off to the author he certainly tried to research and did a lot of investigation and travel. He makes several references to Oxford and his studies and that was the problem - it was like reading a thesis as opposed to a good book. I wanted to finish it but I was not looking forward to going back to it each evening. It certainly was not the worst book I ever read I just think it could be much more than it was. Final problem I will mention - it talks a lot about rumour, certain results etc. but nothing concrete. There is always a lack of evidence.
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on 19 March 2009
I bought this book so I could explain globalisation and organized crime to my 12 year old son, and ended up buying half a dozen copies for all the men in my extended family. Hill has done his research and covers half the world. Somehow though he manages to make the stories of footballers, gangsters, and owners engaging, occasionally hilarious, and surprisingly moving.

In essence Hill suggests that globalization is a two-way process of us selling the rest of the world images of the good life, and the rest of world then buying into our games for status, legitimacy, and profit. Gamblers in Asia will no longer bet on their own games because they are too rigged, so now they bet on ours. The stakes are now so high that inevitably the money erodes the beautiful game.

And then he proves it.
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on 4 December 2012
This is a strange book and the first half is hard work - with a lot of material about fixing games in Mayalsia and Singapore in the 1980s and 90s - hardly apowerhouse of world soccer! The author revals an ignorance about different types of gambling bets when he is impressed with the range of bets available in Asia - which have been common in Britain for 25 years!

The account of his experience with a Singaporean hooker on pages 163 is totally irrelevant as is the last chapter which has no relevance to the previous 300 pages dealing with fixes - obviously the author did not have a suitable conclusion so decided to insert a parable with a happy ending so we could go forward with hope.

Howver the sections dealing with the Ghana team were well written, well researched, read well and seemed fairly compelling evidence that the team was frequently involved in fixed games - and at the World Cup - and I too remember the strange way they collapsed agaionst Brazil. I am surprised Fifa and authorities have not acted upon this - nothing on Wikipedia about Stephen Appiah's admissions either.

The book is fairly serious but loses credibility and objectivity when the author criticises some of his subjects as 'scumbags'.

A serious topic, a serious approach but sadly the book leaves one wanting more and feeling it is a little flawed - too litle material and at the end of the day only mentions 4 specific World Cup matches that may have been fixed. Beyond that - lots of research but mainly generalisations not hard facts about any specific games.

But Hill is to be commended for his efforts - and for sure there are Asian syndicates trying to influence results. Step forward Bruce Grobbelaar!
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on 24 February 2012
The book can become quite hard to read at times, with names (a large percentage being faked for confidentiality purposes) and dates flying around. It's hard to remember who all the people are, what they've done etc. However, the sections that are primarily focused on one or two people become incredibly interesting and easy to read. Personally, the second section (about the World Cup and more recent events) was far more enjoyable, as I actually knew some of the people being mentioned, i.e. the Ghana football team receives a whole lot of attention. The first half of the book does have some irrelevant points and background information, but it helps to give a better understanding throughout the rest of the book.
It starts out reasonably well, starts to dip in the middle of the first section (mainly about corruption in Malaysia/Singapore), but really picks up in the second half. Be warned though, concentration is needed to fully understand what's going on throughout...
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on 25 October 2010
The book started promisingly but went rapidly down hill. Lots of irrelevant chat and suddenly you realize the author is short of material and is stretching what little he has. A more overriding point is this. Gambling in football is a billion turnover industry and the author is quite possibly the only human being alive who seems genuinely surprised that there is corruption and fixing, a particular problem in the Far East. No, really????? There is not one single financial market in the world going back over 2,000 years that does not have corruption. Talk about statement of the bleeding obvious. I mean for all the "revelation" he might as well bang out a book about say "Wow, Ive discovered that some husbands dont love their wives the little horrors..."

The second issue is the style of writing. Not sure how he has managed this but in parts it reads a bit like a Mills and Boon....real genius when you think about it.
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