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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Corruption in Sports


Sport can be considered as the biggest phenomenon in today's era and has become an integral part of a person's life. Sport has also a connection with the liberal values and gives importance to the lives of the billion people who follow sports. As it is said that every coin has two sides, in the same way there is also a dirty side to sports. Many use sports as a medium for doing dirty business, drugs, and corruption and in some cases sports is used as a medium of violence. Corruption in sports is a matter which should be taken into consideration and not as beliefs in bad outcomes.

Corruption has no proper definition. The meaning of corruption defers from person to person. Some of the definitions for corruption are: “lack of integrity or honesty (especially susceptibility to bribery); use of a position of trust for dishonest gain.” (, 2015) A scientific definition was developed by Professor (emeritus) Dr. Petrus van Duyne: “Corruption is an improbity or decay in the decision-making process in which a decision-maker consents to deviate or demands deviation from the criterion which should rule his or her decision-making, in exchange for a reward or for the promise or expectation of a reward, while these motives influencing his or her decision-making cannot be part of the justification of the decision.” (, 2015) It is a term which can be defined differently by different people but the original meaning of the word corruption remains the same. Corruption has taken many types of forms such as institutional corruption, spot fixing, match fixing, tax fraud and many more.

Institutional Corruption:

As cited by Lawrence Lessig "Institutional corruption is manifest when there is a systemic and strategic influence which is legal, or even currently ethical, that undermines the institution's effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, including, to the extent relevant to its purpose, weakening either the public's trust in that institution or the institution's inherent trustworthiness." (, 2015)  An example for institutional corruption can be Mr. Sepp Blatter and other FIFA official accepting a bribe of for hosting of the FIFA World Cup at Qatar in 2022.

Match Fixing:

“Dishonest activity to make sure that one team wins a particular sports match.” (, 2015) An example for match fixing  “In the year 2004, more than thirty people in South Africa were arrested on charges of match-fixing by the South African Football Association. The thirty people included the club officials, referees and an official of the association and a match commissioner.” (, 2015)

Spot Fixing:

“(In sport) the action or practice of dishonestly determining the outcome of a specific part of a match or game before it is played.” (, 2015) Recent example of spot fixing is 13 footballers aged between 18 and 30 years were arrested over the allegations of bribery and money laundering. (BBC News, 2015)

Tax Fraud:

A general definition of tax fraud is “Tax fraud occurs when an individual or business entity willingly and intentionally falsifies information on a tax return in order to limit the amount of tax liability. Tax fraud essentially entails cheating on a tax return in an attempt to avoid paying the entire tax obligation.” (Investopedia, 2010) Recent example of tax fraud is football superstar Javier Mascherano who failed to report the earnings for the year 2011 and 2012 and also possibly for the later years also. (, 2015)

Case Study:

To support my assessment I would like to propose two case studies from different sports and are of different types and levels of corruption, one case study is from the Indian Premier League and other is from FIFA. In the case study of the India Premier League (IPL), what had actually happened was in the month of May 2015, Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan soon after their match in Mumbai for allegations spot-fixing. Eleven bookies who were involved in this corruption scandal were also arrested at that time, including one Amit Singh who was a former Royals player. Rajasthan Royals later suspended their players and the BCCI set up an inquiry, headed by its ACSU chief Ravi Sawani, into the allegations. The board also announced enhanced anti-corruption measures, including two more security personnel with each team. The arrests kicked off a nation-wide search and arrest of bookmakers - betting is illegal in India. One of those picked up in Mumbai was a small-time actor, Virender "Vindoo" Dara Singh, arrested on charges of links with bookmakers. His testimony led the police to arrest, on May 24, Gurunath Meiyappan, a top official of Chennai Super Kings and son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan. Delhi Police eventually charge sheeted the players, among 39 persons, under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, while the BCCI handed out life bans to Sreesanth and Chavan after Sawani's probe found them guilty of fixing.” (Cricinfo) As a result of that “Two years after the damning 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) corruption scandal emerged, the fate of the tournament now hangs in the balance. After a lengthy legal process, the Indian Supreme Court suspended two former champion teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals for two years, and slapped their owners with lifelong bans preventing them from participating in any cricket-related activity. Since the advent of the IPL in 2008, allegations of corruption, spot- and match-fixing have marred the tournament. The glamour, the larger-than-life parties and night life have all been an integral feature of the league. While these elements supposedly help glamorise the event, they also provide an opportunity for the infamous Indian underworld to flex its muscles.” (The Express Tribune, 2015)

Now, moving on towards the second case study which is of the corruption allegations in the footballs world governing body FIFA (Federation International de Football Association) and after referencing the Panorama documentaries and some other materials BBC Panoram a reporter Andrew Jennings has seen a letter obtained by America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which casts doubt on Mr. Blatter's denial, and this letter also suggest that a $30 million bribe were paid to sponsor the rights of the Brazil National Football Team and the rights were paid by one of the leading sports brand - Nike. The letter, apparently written by Havelange, talks about the payments he received from ISL. It says Mr. Blatter had "full knowledge of all activities" and was "always apprised" of them. The letter is included in an FBI request to the Swiss authorities for help with their investigation. They ask for the file of an earlier Swiss investigation into the ISL bribes and they say "among other things, the prosecutor is investigating Havelange's statements implicating Mr. Blatter". In 2010, Mr. Blatter suppressed a Swiss legal finding that both Havelange and Teixeria had received bribes from ISL. In 2013, Mr. Blatter told a FIFA ethics committee inquiry he was unaware of the bribery. He was cleared of any wrongdoing. And Apart from Mr. Blatter, the most senior figures accused are football powerbrokers in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. They are connected to CONCACAF, the continental confederation which operates under the FIFA umbrella and is essentially in charge of football in that region. One of its key roles is helping to agree World Cup TV and sponsorship deals in the US. Jeffrey Webb is the head of CONCACAF and was widely seen as being groomed as a successor to FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He has been extradited to the US. His predecessor, the above-mentioned Jack Warner, has also been indicted. Mr. Webb replaced Mr. Warner after he was forced to step down after an internal FIFA fraud inquiry. Latin American football chiefs also figure heavily in the list. There are two former presidents of CONMEBAL, which represents South American football nations: Nicolas Leoz and Eugenio Figueredo. Currently Switzerland is processing the extradition requests for the officials made by the US and Mr. Warner is currently on bail in Trinidad pending the extradition to the US and Mr. Leoz at the moment is under house arrest in Paraguay. Aaron Davidson who is the head of a sports marketing firm for the US, is pleaded not guilty in the federal court in New York for various charges like wire fraud and money laundering, and he has been released on bail. Former FIFA Vice-President Juan Napout has also been pleaded as not guilty. (BBC Sport, 2015; Fifa, Sepp Blatter and Me, 2015) After referring to some other documentaries related to the topic some interesting facts came up like Amos Adamut and Reynald Temarii were banned by FIFA because of the speculation of them selling their votes for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and these allegations were laid on them by a well known newspaper. With this there were some internal ISL documents which Andrew Jeggings obtained showed secret payments of $100 million out of which most of the payment went to some handful of FIFA bosses and of them all only one name came up of Nicolas Leoz who happens to be the member of the FIFA's executive and the boss of South American alleged of taking 2 bribes of $130000 and further to it Mr. Nicolas Leoz 3 further payments $200000 each.  (FIFA's Dirty Secret, 2010)



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