Suspicious betting report highlights decrease in football patterns

Stats Perform and Starlizard Integrity Services’  third annual ‘Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report’ has revealed that the percentage of matches identified as involving suspicious betting patterns has decreased from 0.61 per cent to 0.56 per cent.

The report analysed data from a total of 81,000 football matches played during 2019, monitoring domestic and international competitions across 115 countries and six continents. In total 456 matches were found to have suspicious betting patterns, with weekday games highlighting a ‘clear trend’.

Jake Marsh, Global Head of Integrity at Stats Perform, said: “This is the third year we have published this report and the depth of analysis has increased once again. A concerted effort has been made to analyse the largest tranche of data possible to help raise awareness of specific areas and to get under the skin of suspicious betting patterns.

“Match-fixing is a sensitive and complex issue and this report is intended to contribute to the overall understanding of what is arguably the greatest threat to the heart of football’s integrity.”

The report, which aims to help football’s global stakeholders better understand the complexities of monitoring suspicious wagering activities, also revealed that suspicious matches involving national teams rose to 1.53 per cent of all total events reviewed during 2019, up from 1.01 per cent in the previous year. 

Research highlighted that one national men’s team had four suspicious alerts from a total of 13 matches played during the year.

Matches played on Monday to Friday made up fewer than 40 per cent of all those reviewed from 2019, but almost 60 percent of all suspicious matches. The proportion of suspicious matches played on Wednesdays in 2019 was almost ‘three times than that of Saturdays’.

Stats Perform and Starlizard both also highlighted that friendlies continue to be over-represented as events triggering suspicious alerts. The report “​Suspicious club friendly matches have doubled from those played in 2018 and are back at a similar level to 2017. Of the 24 suspicious club friendlies played in 2019, 15 took place in January or February.”

Women’s football has maintained a low rate of suspicious wagering despite its heightened public profile and increased media coverage across multiple markets which has led to an increase in betting volumes. The reports ultimately found that the potential for larger profits from betting on women’s football did not lead to an increase in suspicious women’s matches, which is seen as a major positive for the industry.

Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services, concluded: “Although the percentage of matches identified as suspicious has fallen, it is important that the football world remains alert to integrity threats at all levels of the game, particularly with the additional financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In producing this report, a vast amount of data has been analysed in order to provide sports and integrity stakeholders with detailed intelligence on suspicious betting patterns across many different competitions and countries.

“We believe the Global Report 2020 to be the most comprehensive publicly-available assessment on suspicious football matches to date.”