Posted March 10, 2014 by John Baintree in News

How Singapore became the centre of match fixing?

How Singapore became the centre of match fixing
How Singapore became the centre of match fixing

It doesn’t seem possible to read about a major football competition without hearing about Singapore recently. Sadly this is not due to any footballing prowess there might me in this small nation state. Rather, Singapore is mentioned in the same breath as commentary about match fixing. So, how did Singapore of all places become so linked with what is probably footballs biggest ongoing scandal?

Singapore, well known as the place you can go to prison for throwing chewing gum on the pavement, has a very strict courts system that makes it an unlikely contender as the source of football match fixing. It is also one of the world’s smallest and richest nations so again, would not immediately fit on a list of the ten most likely places to rig matches.

So you need to scratch beneath the veneer to understand how Singapore presented the perfect environment for football match fixing to assume global ambitions. Firstly Singapore, like much of Asia has a very healthy interest in gambling. In fact that interest verges on the obsessive and this interest is what gave rise to early interest in local match fixing.

Early interest in fixing local matches gave local criminals experience in techniques that could be applied to any football match or tournament anywhere in the world. The first name to be linked with match fixing is Tan Seet Eng, otherwise known as Dan Tan and he appears to have spearheaded the movement of match fixing from local to international games.

Recent comments by one of the leading Indonesian casino portals, M88, reveals the extent of the problem.

The Asian gaming market is worth billions, the fractured system allows underground bookies to thrive unregulated.

Despite a recent spate of arrests, the Singaporean authorities appear, at first glance, to have been tardy about dealing with this problem but to hold that view is to completely underestimate the nature of the problem.

The main issue is that gambling, legal and illegal, fair and fixed, is entrenched in the local culture. This is a nation where car number plates involved in accidents provide numbers for the lottery on the grounds that the numbers have used up all of their bad luck and can only deliver good luck in future.

Against this background, arrests for match fixing make thin, they hardly cause a raised eyebrow because of the local gambling culture. Headlines and are certainly not enough to deter the next round of match fixers. Neil Humphrys, author of the novel “Match Fixer” makes the point that government intervention is unlikely to change local culture where family events are often arranged around the local betting shop or mah-jong table.