5 Stupidly Corrupt Moments From the History of Sports Betting
To many people, sports betting is the smartest kind of gambling out there. When you’re betting on cards and spinning wheels, you’re just playing against a random number generator, but when you’re betting on how a game will turn out, well, that’s your area of expertise. You’ve been watching games your whole life, right? Which is why you’re very confused when sports betting keeps losing you money.
“It’s because this game’s fixed!” you scream. Usually, it’s not. Usually, your bookie just set the odds so they had an edge no matter how the game went. But sometimes, yes, the game is fixed. And sometimes, this can get ridiculous.
One Team Defended the Other’s Goal to Keep from Scoring
Something weird was clearly going on at one Canadian Soccer League game in 2015. Rumors of match-fixing had already been swirling around the league, and this game was particularly ripe for shenanigans — thanks to the way standings worked, neither team really had anything on the line, so if one of them was paid to throw the game, they had nothing to lose by going through with it. Then one of the teams, Niagara Falls, noticed that their opponent SC Waterloo didn’t appear to care much about scoring.
Waterloo made two goals, but whenever the score was tied, they seemingly made no effort to score further. The betting odds for the game were 10-to-1 against the teams tying. So if they did end in a tie, someone stood to make a bunch of money.
At one point, when Waterloo was ahead 2-1, a Waterloo player tackled a Niagara player, for no apparent reason other than to give Niagara a free kick. Waterloo’s goalie then pretty much just let this kick fly right past him. With the game tied, the next time they had a chance to score, someone on Waterloo kicked the ball out of bounds instead.
Now, Niagara said to hell with it. Like we said, they had nothing riding on this game, so all they wanted was to mess up whatever Waterloo was planning. Niagara players aimed at their own goal, to put Waterloo ahead and ruin the tie. Waterloo players responded by defending Niagara’s goal, keeping the ball out of it. The two teams kicked the ball back and forth for a little while, both aiming in the wrong direction, but the match was clearly screwed at this point, so the ref called the game.
Waterloo was never penalized for that day's stuff. They denied all allegations, convincingly pointing out that, hey, they weren’t the ones trying to score in their own goal, so if there was one obvious rulebreaker at the game, it wasn’t them.
A Soccer Player Was Suspended for Fixing a Bet on Whether He’d Eat Pie
Yeah, throwing a soccer game is against the rules. Or rather, doing anything to improperly influence the result of any “occurrence in or in connection with a football match” is against the rules. That’s because people bet on stuff other than the final outcome.
Wayne Shaw, who weighed 320 pounds, was known as the Roly Poly Goalie. Besides betting on how his team would do, English bookies took odds on whether Shaw would eat a pie when on the sidelines one day in 2017. Sure enough, Shaw ate a pie that day. Technically, it was a pasty, but that qualified as a pie enough to settle the bet.
The English Football Association investigated and determined that he’d deliberately chosen to eat that pie for the sake of betting markets. They fined him and suspended him for two months, and then Shaw resigned from his team altogether. “I wasn't sleeping right,” he’d later say, while still protesting his innocence. “I could feel myself getting stressed. And I’ve still got that knot in my stomach.” Hey, you know what’s a great cure for knots in the stomach? A quick serving of pie.
A Gatorade Bet
Here’s another tale of a 300-pound player and the silly off-field things that people bet on. It was the 2008 Super Bowl, and people were betting on the tradition of dumping Gatorade on the winning coach — specifically, on what color Gatorade would drench the guy. Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen, according to a friend of his who spoke after his 2019 death, took a peek at the cooler early on and texted the info to friends so they could bet accordingly.
His scheme didn’t work. Lorenzen’s friends put their money behind the color Gatorade that the Patriots had, since the Patriots were strongly favored to win that game. Even in the fourth quarter, the Pats were ahead and expected to win. Then came one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets ever. The Giants’ David Tyree caught a 32-yard pass from Eli Manning — despite other players swatting away one of his hands, leaving him to manage the catch by slapping the ball to his helmet.
The Giants won the game, so they were the ones to douse their coach in Gatorade, using a color Lorenzen’s friends hadn’t backed. He got himself a Super Bowl ring, but at what cost? If Lorenzen had been a true friend, he would have thrown the game and ensured his pals won their bet.
A Team From Nowhere
Bahrain had a friendly football match scheduled with Togo in 2010, outside of any sort of tournament or qualifier. The visitors came by, the two teams played and Bahrain won easily — too easily. The Togolese players seemed no good at all. They barely had enough energy to finish the game. They kept falling down. The final score would in fact have been much more one-sided than it ended up being, except the refs also said a bunch of the goals Bahrain made didn’t count, for unclear reasons.
It was a total waste of time for Bahrain, who’d wanted to maybe scout something about competitors they’d later face, not win a pointless game with trivial ease. Naturally, some people suspected that the Togo team had thrown the game on purpose, since match-fixing is a thing, even in friendly matches like this. Bahrain officials gave Togo a call to see if they could learn anything.
Togolese officials said they had no idea what Bahrain were talking about. We don’t mean Togo were insisting the game was legit. We mean Togo had never heard anything about the game till this call. The players who came to Bahrain weren’t the Togo team at all, and we still don’t know exactly who any of them really were.
All suspicion went to the match organizer, a man from Singapore named Wilson Raj Perumal. Bahrain really should never have trusted the guy, who’d already been convicted three times on match-fixing offenses. He was convicted again in 2011, and after that, having somehow gambled away all the millions he’d made fixing games, he moved on to a surer way of making money: writing a book about his lifetime of crime.
A Boxing Promoter Tried to Poison an Opponent
Sometimes, when you try to fix a game, a player proves less than open to your bribes. Such was the case with Tim “Doc” Anderson. A boxing promoter named Elvis Parker tried to get a bunch of boxers to throw fights, but Anderson refused and soundly beat the competitor Parker was pushing. Then in one 1992 fight, some strange men passed glasses of water to Anderson. He drank them without thinking. This landed him in the hospital. He’d been poisoned, he concluded.
Doctors agreed something bad was surely floating in his system, but they couldn’t identify just what it was. Anderson (he’d later claim) now met with Parker to demand the name of the substance that was possibly killing him. Anderson’s life was in danger (again, according to his own claims), so anything he did at this point would count as acting in self-defense. What he did was shoot the unarmed Parker six times.
We’re not entirely convinced by Anderson’s reasoning. Were this really a quest to find an antidote, killing the man with the secret knowledge should have been the last thing he’d try. Maybe this was straightforward revenge. Whatever the case, a jury found him guilty of murder and sent him to prison for life without parole.
“Tim, I hope you never get out,” said Parker’s 15-year-old son in court. “If you do, I’ll be waiting.” Now there’s a fight we’d pay to see.