Declan Hill has written journal articles, book sections and an academic book Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing in Football to explain the new phenomenon of globalization and match-fixing in professional sports.
Hill’s other academic interests are corruption studies, organized crime and ‘informal governance’ – or the analysis of power structures in societies that are outside formal governments.
In general, Hill follows the Oxford sociology tradition of ‘rational choice analysis’. He thinks that in most situations the majority of people choose to act in a certain way because they believe it will be for their own benefit. So if you pay customs officials badly, they will be more likely to be corrupt than if you pay them well. This is in contrast to a subjective or cultural analysis that says corruption is due to a lack of ethics.
Hill is driven by evidence-based work: research methods should fit the topic that is being examined, rather than shaping the topic to use a favourite research method. Therefore, Hill uses both qualitative (interviews, text analysis) and quantitative methods (statistics) in his research.
SEVEN STEPS TO UNDERSTANDING MATCH-FIXING
“If it seems complicated, you are not an expert.”
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
Match-fixing is not complicated. Here are the seven steps to understanding the phenomenon.
1. Match-fixing has been around since sport was first organized.
2. However, we in this generation are facing something new. There is a linkage between match-fixing and globalization. The same phenomenon that is transforming industries like journalism, travel and music – is transforming sports corruption.
3. There is a global multiple-hundreds-of-billions of dollars market in sports gambling that is now accessible to anybody who wants to make a bet on almost any sports event in the world. Sports events from NFL American Football to 2nd division Dutch women’s soccer games to Austrian ski jumping can be bet on almost anywhere in the world.
4. This means that sports events that were safe from the possibility of fixing ten years ago are now in danger.
5. Many of the fixing scandals in football (soccer) are the responsibility of a small group of interconnected fixers living in Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia and Thailand. They all know each other. They compete and collude with each other every week.
6. The authorities in those countries know most of these fixers, rather than arrest or put them on public trial, they try to ignore them. Or when they do ‘fixing investigations’ they arrest the relatively low-level players or referees. They do so because there are some very influential and rich people who sometimes bankroll the fixers. Those people would be deeply embarrassed (at the very least) if the full picture of their activities were revealed.
7. The Asian fixers have established a network of corrupted sports officials around the world. Most of those officials have not been named. If the fixers were put on public trial we could find out the full extent of the network, arrest the corrupt officials and protect global sports for the next ten years.
Below are videos that answer some of the basic questions on current-day match-fixing. Thanks to Andrew Thompson, Tad Homer-Dixon and the kind staff of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Centre in Kitchener/Waterloo, please visit for the complete interview:
‘What is the new match-fixing?’ ‘What is the difference between cheating and fixing?’
Why you should be careful of the anti-match-fixing industry’ ‘Why are Asian match-fixers traveling the world to fix games?’
‘Why Declan Hill does this kind of research work’
Currently, most academic research does not study match-fixing. They do not study the motivations, means and methods of the fixers. Rather most academics study the response by the authorities to match-fixing. This means their research is long pages of prose about the activities of various governments or lists of regulations.
However, below are links to some robust research on match-fixing:
FIFPro. Black Book: Eastern Europe — The problems professional footballers encounter:
Research. Hoofddorp, The Netherlands. January, 2012.
Hill, Declan. How Gambling Corruptors Fix Football Matches
Volume 9, Issue 4,
20 November 2009
European Sport Management Quarterly
Hill, Declan. A Critical Mass of Corruption: Why Some Football Leagues Have More Match-Fixing Than Others.
International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship
Vol. 11, No. 3, April 2010
Hill, Declan. To Fix or not to fix? How corruptors decide to fix football matches.
Global Crime, Vol. 10, No. 3, Aug 2009
Levitt, Steven D. and Duggan, M. “Winning Isn’t Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling.”
American Economic Review. Vol. 92.5 (2002): 594-605.
Lile, Emma. “Professional Pedestrianism in South Wales During the Nineteenth Century.”
The Sports Historian (became Sport in History in 2003), no. 2 (2000): 94-105.
McLean, Iain. “A non-zero-sum game of football.” British Journal of Political Science 10 (1980): 253-9.
Preston, Ian, and Stefan Szymanski. Cheating in Contests.
Oxford Review of Economi Policy, Vol 19 No 4, 2003.
Sugden, John and Tomlinson, Alan. Digging the Dirt and Staying Clean: Retrieving the Investigative Tradition for a Critical Sociology of Sport
International Review for the Sociology of Sport 34; 385 -1999
Taylor, B. and Trogdon, J. “Losing to Win: Tournament Incentives in the National Basketball Association.” Journal of Labour Economics. Vol. 20, 1 (2002).
General criminology articles with good background on the dynamics behind match-fixing
Almost any of Diego Gambetta’s work, including his analysis on why adolescents make educational choices – here are three specific articles:
Gambetta, Diego. “Mafia: The Price of Distrust.” In Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations ed. Diego Gambetta,158-75. Electronic Edition Oxford: Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, 2000.
— “Corruption: An Analytical Map.” In Political Corruption of Transition: A Sceptic’s Handbook, ed. S. Kotkin and A. Sajo. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2002.
— “Deceptive Mimicry in Humans.” In Perspective on Imitation: From Cognitive Neuro-Science to Social Science, ed. S. Hurley and N. Chater, vol. 2, 221-241 Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.
Alexander, Barbara. “The Rational Racketeer: Pasta Protection in Depression Era Chicago.” Journal of Law and Economics 40.1 (1997): 175-202.
Bond, Matthew. “Elite Social Relations and Corporate Political Donations in Britain.” Political Studies. Vol. 55, 1 (2007): 59-85.
Lambsdorff, Johann Graf. “How Confidence Facilitates Illegal Transactions: An Empirical Approach.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Vol. 61.4 (2002): 829-53.
van Rijckeghem, C. and Weder, B. “Bureaucratic Corruption and the Rate of Temptation: Do Wages in the Civil Service Affect Corruption, and by How Much?” Journal of Development Economics. Vol. 65.2 (2001): 307-31.
Varese, Federico and Yaish, Meir. “Altruism: The Importance of Being Asked. The Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe.” Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History.
Articles about the sex industry, counterfeit erotic performances by sexual work that is a key dynamic to understanding the work of match corruptors
Enck, G. E. and Preston, J.D. “Counterfeit Intimacy: A Dramaturgical Analysis of an Erotic Performance.” Deviant Behavior vol. 9.4 (1988): 369-81.
Salutin, M. “Stripper Morality.” Transitions. Vol. 8 (1971): 12-22.
Thompson, William E. and Harred, Jackie L. “Topless Dancers: Managing Stigma in a Deviant Occupation.” Deviant Behavior. Vol. 13 (1992): 291-311.
If you are a journalist, researcher or student who wants to understand this phenomenon please buy and read The Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing in Football. Declan Hill is happy to answer questions or comments from genuine readers. Contact information is on this site.