A PHD study undertaken by Graeme Law at the University of Chester claims that professional football players are under-performing due to worries relating to gambling losses.
Law detailed his data and analysis at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birmingham, stating that players gamble as a way of relieving boredom and use online betting sites to conceal gambling partners from their partners:
“Previous gambling environments were more social and encouraged group interaction, whereas the internet now allows gambling to be done in private.”
“Players gamble as a way of relieving the boredom on journeys to away games and after training on pre-season tours. Contrary to popular opinion, their actions are heavily regulated and constrained, so they get easily bored.”
Law is an ex-professional footballer, who has been capped at international level for Scotland under 19s. Law used his contacts to interview 34 current and former professional footballers, including international, Premiership and lower leagues players.
His studies detail that the players interviewed, talked about how worries caused by gambling, usually poker games on the coach or at hotels before matches, had impaired performances.
As part of his research, one international and Premiership player told him:
“I liked to bet on the bus, but it got worse when I could bet online. I was able to do it all the time with no one knowing. I lost a lot. My wife found out after a year or so and she got me help and it’s under control now. It’s the culture to gamble in football and it can get dangerous when it grips you.”
One particular player also confirmed to Law that his gambling losses left him unavailable to perform to the level expected on the pitch:
“I lost a lot and I had a stinker because it’s all I thought about during the game.”
Further players interviewed for the research have been bound by an ethical code and anonymised. The sample size may be quite small, but Graeme believes that it is reflective of a gambling problem in Football, and a negative consequence of the development in technology:
“An unintended outcome of the development of technology has been that partners have a lack of awareness of potential gambling problems that can arise for players.”