Earlier in the K-League season, Jeonbuk Hyundai were fined and deducted nine points for match-fixing incidents in 2013. That penalty felt a bit soft at the time, although it did end up changing the outcome of this season’s K-League title race, with FC Seoul overtaking Jeonbuk on the final day of the season. What was most surprising about that story was that the amounts of money required to fix a match was under one-thousand dollars. The fact that this could happen for such a low amount at one of Asia’s biggest and most well-financed clubs suggests that it could happen anywhere.
Even though gambling is illegal in Asia, it still happens, as Steve Darby rightly pointed out. Not only that, but there is a thriving gambling industry in Macao, Singapore, and Korea, where each country’s citizens, unable to legally gamble in their home country, fly back and forth to take a gambling vacation. Allowing, and strictly regulating, gambling on football could help the problem as it would bring more money into the game and would deprive illegal gambling rings of some of their revenue as punters start turning to legal betting channels.
However, legalized gambling alone won’t solve the match-fixing issue. Better governance at the national level is required in almost all countries. Better qualified and paid match officials are also needed to help solve the problem. With clubs in the region spending more and more on players, it is surely time that national associations deal with these underlying issues once-and-for-all so that Asian football can really kick on and become a global force.