Sportradar Integrity Services (SIS) has highlighted football as the most affected sport by match-fixing occurrences in 2023.  

In its  latest annual report on betting corruption and match-fixing, Sportradar’s integrity division has highlighted the continuous advancement and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a main driving force in its increased number of suspicious matches identified.

In 2023, SIS detected 1,329 suspicious matches in 11 different sports, spanning 105 countries. The company saw its highest number of suspicious matches ever recorded, increasing by 9% from 2022.

Mens sports substantially outweighed female’s sports when it came to suspicious matches detected. In total, there were 1,295 matches of interest in men’s sporting events, whereas only 34 came from women’s sporting events.

Europe has remained a hotbed for suspicious matches, totalling 667 throughout the year. Sportradar has highlighted the Czech Republic (67), Greece (46) and  Serbia (36) as the countries with the most detected matches in the region. 

The report suggests that Brazil has seen an improvement, with the total number of suspicious matches detected declining by 44. Despite this notable decrease, the country still retained the top spot as the country with the highest number of matches detected.

However, this improvement could be attributed to the South American country passing a gambling bill in December, increasing the opportunity for bettors to access regulated operators. 

Unregulated operators continue to be the greatest threat to sports integrity, which was also mentioned in the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) in its report in January.

Asia is a continent where unregulated operators present a significant risk, which is evident from match numbers increasing by 60 in the continent, with the Philippines flagged as one of the countries with the largest increases from last year’s report (+28).

In terms of sports affected by match-fixing and betting corruption, 66% of the total suspicious matches occurred in football, a small growth of 2% from 2022. However, it is not surprising that football takes the top spot due to its popularity around the world. 

Despite basketball experiencing a small decrease in suspicious match numbers compared to 2022 (-15), the sport was still the clear number two spot with a total 205. In terms of frequency of suspicious match betting, esports follows on from football and basketball, with a total one in every 643 matches.

Sportradar’s statistics consistently show that the majority of sporting events remain unaffected by match-fixing, with over 99.5% clean across different sports. Remarkably, none of the individual sports displayed a suspicious match ratio exceeding 1%.

In 2023, Sportradar achieved another notable success in supporting cases, resulting in 147 sanctions issued across 39 distinct cases involving 10 different sports and spanning 23 countries.

Football accounted for a substantial portion of the sports sanctions, but penalties were also applied in disciplines like snooker, tennis, and table tennis, among others. One notable instance occurred in snooker, where 10 players received extensive suspensions, including two lifetime bans.

The reason for the growing success of not only alerting authorities to suspicious activities, but also being successful in issuing penalties, has been attributed to AI. 

Andreas Krannich, Sportradar’s EVP, Integrity, Rights Protection and Regulatory Services, said: “Continued investment in the development of technology is key to detecting otherwise hard-to-find occurrences of match-fixing.

“In combination with access to account-level data, collaboration across the industry and human experts, we have a suite of powerful tools to help both prevent and detect risks to sports integrity.

“Further advancements in the fight against match-fixing will be possible as the AI models continue to learn and we will keep honing our expertise to protect sport from manipulation.”

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