More than a third of sportspeople questioned in an EU backed survey across six member states, including Ireland, said that they were aware of incidents related to match-fixing within their own sport during the past year. Almost one in five of them said that it touched upon the team in which they themselves played.
In Ireland, the latter figure was just over three per cent but almost one in 10 (9.7 per cent) of those who participated in the survey here said they believed that their teammates would be open to the idea of fixing a game while only just over half, 51.6 per cent positively stating that they would resist the idea.
The figures are much better than for Greece whose ongoing economic problems appears to be a major factor in sportspeople believing that there is a greater tolerance of match-fixing but significantly worse than for the UK or Austria.
Almost half of those questioned as part of the "Fix The Fixing" project, an EU funded initiative intended to provide better education on gambling and corruption in sport, in which the University of Limerick was the Irish participant institution, were found not to know the rules on betting in their sport while 19.6 per cent were found to have broken them.
Dr Deirdre O’Shea, of the Department of Personnel and Employment Relations in the Kemmy Business School at the university said that she was surprised by how high some of the numbers produced by the survey are but suggested that social media and other aspects of modern communications technology had changed the landscape in recent years.
“We were expecting lower although it’s important to say they do represent a minority of those surveyed,” she said. “Betting is obviously nothing new but what the internet has done is to make it easier and the contacting of people in relation to it far easier.
“When we asked about the risk factors and why people would engage in it, a lot came down to players being in vulnerable positions and so better working conditions appears to be an important factor as well as the existence of a culture of respect and honesty”.
Around 80 per cent of participants in the survey were men with 40 per cent professional sportspeople. Almost half were footballers with around one third playing in their nation's top flight while basketball, rugby, tennis and athletics were among the other sports represented in the project which also included Cyprus and France. An educational tool intended for use by sports organisations in their work on the issues raised is available at fixthefixing.eu.