A total of 456 matches were found to have suspicious betting patterns, including a ‘clear trend’ for those played on weekdays, as part of the third annual ‘Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report’ co-authored by Stats Perform and Starlizard Integrity Services.
The report aims to help football’s global stakeholders better understand the complexities of monitoring suspicious wagering activities, providing meaningful insights and an informative overview of current betting trends.
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.
Asian Handicap, 1X2 and ‘total goals’ markets related to football matches played in 2019 were first analysed separately by both Stats Perform and Starlizard Integrity Services.
Analysts from both companies then shared their findings on suspicious matches prior to a ‘quality assurance process’ by research units that resulted in a consensus on each match – with the outcome of the analysis revealing that 456 matches generated suspicious betting patterns.
Maintaining the same ‘data methodology’ as previous publications, the percentage of matches identified as involving suspicious betting patterns had decreased from 0.61% to 0.56%.
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.”
Further insights revealed that suspicious matches involving national teams rose to 1.53% of all total events reviewed during 2019, up from 1.01% in the previous year. The report highlighted one national men’s team that had four suspicious alerts from a total of 13 matches played during 2019.
Tracking international markets, the report also warned football stakeholders of a ‘clear trend’ identified by ‘higher proportions of suspicious matches taking place on weekdays’.
Matches played on Monday to Friday made up fewer than 40% of all those reviewed from 2019, but almost 60% of all suspicious matches. The proportion of suspicious matches played on Wednesdays in 2019 was almost ‘three times than that of Saturdays’.
Highlighted as a key concern, Stats Perform and Starlizard noted that friendlies continue to be over-represented as events triggering suspicious alerts.
“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,” the report detailed.
On a positive note, the report maintained that suspicious wagering on women’s football remains very low, despite its heightened public profile and increased media coverage across multiple markets leading to an increase in betting volumes.
It found that the potential for larger profits from betting on women’s football did not lead to an increase in suspicious women’s matches.
Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services, added: “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.”