FA Concerns Over Friendly Wagers

To many online gambling fans, one of the biggest draws of the modern era is the ability to be able to place a bet on matches that they might never have heard about. And there is never a better time than the arrival of a new football season to pick out some tantalising friendlies in far flung corners of the world for a little flutter.

However, an official from the Malta Football Association (MFA) has expressed concern that betting on low profile friendlies could encourage match fixing, as there is less scrutiny from officials as to what goes on during the games.

Any time, any place

Gamblers and sports fans alike have access to an unprecedented range of betting options thanks to the rise of the online casino and the sports betting site. Not only can gamblers wager on teams from all around the world, but they can also watch the odds change before their eyes, and even place bets after the game has commenced.

The phenomenon has brought a richer experience, both to long standing betting enthusiasts and to regular football fans who had always liked the idea of placing a bet, but had never been sure how to go about it in a traditional bookmaker’s.

Today’s sites can be accessed from PCs or mobile platforms, providing complete convenience and the ability to dip in and put a few pounds on any game, whenever you like.

Too much of a good thing?

The fears raised by MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone centre around exactly this freedom. He expressed concern that a friendly match between two unknown Malta clubs is treated in exactly the same way as a Champions League showdown as far as the betting sites are concerned. Yet there are obviously far fewer checks and balances in place for the minor games.

Malta FA Secretary General Angelo Chetcuti echoed the concerns, adding: “It bothers me that betting companies offer bets on friendly games as much as it bothers me when they also offer bets on youth games, but there is little we can do.”

Chasing shadows?

Caution is a great thing, and it is comforting to know that officials take anti-corruption so seriously, but it is important to keep in mind that there is no suggestion that actual corruption is taking place. As Tabone remarked, “At the end of the day, what it boils down to is the integrity of the players on the pitch.”

And that integrity is something that everyone in the sport takes very seriously. Minor matches from all over Europe are featured on betting sites, but it is no surprise that the concerns are being voiced from Malta, which has been on the wrong side of a high profile corruption scandal.

Ronnie MacKay was recently sentenced to two years imprisonment and a €1,500 fine for his involvement in the attempted bribery of players in Malta’s under-21s team in a 2016 match against Montenegro. It is, therefore, understandable that the Maltese authorities are particularly vigilant on this topic as we go into the new season.

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