A match-fixing scandal that was supposed to die down quietly turned out to be a much more serious affair than originally expected. The scandal, which involves El Porvenir FC, a prominent soccer team, has been raging for more than 30 days, with new revelations coming to the fore and highlighting just how eroded some aspects of the national soccer ecosystem are.
Argentinian Soccer May Be Lawless Wasteland
The case has been referred to prosecutor Martín Rodríguez who is in charge of the investigation. Rodríguez has so far found evidence that El Porvenir’s involvement may not originate within the club, but be a part of a much larger network of match-fixing in Argentina.
The investigation points to corrupt ties to the Argentine Football Association, with the probe homing in on players and higher-up soccer representatives. If true, this would prove a huge setback for the country which has had a long and twisted reputation for enabling match-fixing. The repercussions of proving large-spread corruption could be damning for the country’s soccer with international bodies keeping a close and vigilant eye.
Rodríguez argues that El Porvenir has taken advantage of internet betting, which is available in the Province of Buenos Aires, where it launched first and may have been betting on games that involve the team. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the team as a whole that is acting in concert with organized crime or shot callers who are interested in fixing games despite players’ knowledge.
However, Rodríguez argues that he has already interviewed several players who have confirmed the club’s involvement on some level. Players admitted that one man, identified as Brian S., has been contacting players and offering them to participate in said operations. Players were solicited with offers such as trips to exotic destinations or cashout.
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The gifts would be extended beforehand after which came to a “request to do a favor.” A player willing to participate and throw a game would earn anything between 10,000 and 30,000 pesos, Rodríguez’s interviews revealed.
As Rodríguez has been tugging at the thread, new suspicions of corruption have shown through. According to the investigator, the probe is already pointing to players from more than 20 Argentinian soccer clubs, suggesting that the scandal is not affecting only El Porvenir, but has possibly corrupted the entire soccer ecosystem.
Cleaning this mess would be a Herculean endeavor. The good news is that the Directorate of Judicial Assistance of Complex Crimes is already on the job, raiding offices and seizing equipment and documents, prodding for more liaisons between official soccer clubs and match-fixers.
Rodríguez claims that there are video materials where match-fixers and players may be appearing together. Without offering too much detail into the case, Rodríguez claims that the evidence from video materials would be “definitive,” enabling the investigation to come to move to the next phase, which would establish guilty and mete out penalties. But how do you penalize a country’s entire soccer ecosystem?