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Sport

League of Ireland ‘vulnerable to match-fixing’

Stephen McGuinness

PROFESSIONAL Footballers Association of Ireland boss Stephen McGuinness has admitted that the Irish football league is a potential target for match-fixing, but rejected suggestions that games have been thrown. 

McGuinness’ comments follows reports last week that Ireland has become embroiled in the alleged match-fixing scandal that has recently shocked the global football sphere.

The football chief, who comes from Dublin, expressed his anger that the League of Ireland became involved on the basis of comments from an unknown individual.

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However, he did acknowledge that gambling is an area for concern in the Irish game.

“We think the league is very vulnerable because the wages that are paid are quite low, and the timing of the season where there’s not a lot of games in the summer when our games are on,” said McGuinness.

“The First Division don’t have any live TV games so we always feel we’re vulnerable. The big target area (globally) seems to be where clubs haven’t been paid or players haven’t been paid.”

Ireland is viewed as a high-risk country owing to its relatively low wages on offer to players.

However, the McGuinness believes matches have not been fixed because the football community in Ireland is too small and it wouldn’t be possible to avoid any wrong-doing.

McGuinness with James McClean at an Airtricity League Premier Division fixture

“I don’t think anything could happen in this league without someone finding out about it,” he added.

“I think we have just got to be vigilant and not just sit back and say, ‘ah no, we don’t have an issue with it’.

“I think players have to be aware of the stigma that is attached to it. It’s not just the bet itself, it’s the stigma that’s attached.

“People speak about alcohol but I think gambling is nearly worse, it affects families, can affect people’s lives. It’s something that’s a culture within football and fellas fall into it.

“FIFPro has put it (gambling) as priority No 1 at the moment on their agenda. They think it’s a massive problem across Europe. We would like to think it’s not a problem in our country, but that’s not the say that it can’t be.”

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James Martin
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James Martin is a freelance journalist. Follow him @JamesIsMartin

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