No, I'm not talking about the Albanian Superliga. I'm not even talking about some lousy friendly tournaments. I'm talking about the top clubs competition in Europe - the UEFA Champions League.
Let's get things straight from the start: I'm not a naive believer that every match in the world is clean. I am well aware that a lot of games are being fixed every year. And it's going to take a while until this scourge will get out of sight for good, especially in those countries economically poor. If Albanians want to fix their local league - so be it - but at least we will know who they are. But when such things happen in the Champions League, I just can't pass by as nothing happened.
OK, but what happened? As you may know, we had Champions League qualifiers being played yesterday. One of those matches involved Northern Irish team Crusaders, who were hosting Albanian champions Skenderbeu. As the fist leg had ended 4-1 for the Albanian side, it was virtually decided who will go through.
I'm not gonna talk about the whole match, it doesn't really matter because all the action happened in the last few minutes of the game. It was the 86th minute when the score was 1-2 for the Albanians. There was no camera on the stadium and no stream was found to be broadcasting this game. And that looked like a good occasion for the visiting team to add a few buck to the pocket. It was that 86th minute when they suddenly stopped playing football. People who have attended the game live at the stadium, reported an unusual behavior by Skenderbeu players. As they were leading 2-1 and the score from both legs was 6-2 in their favor, it made no sense to rush things up. Yet, their goalkeeper decided to throw the ball into the game seconds after catching it (why waste time?), attention, to a Crusaders player! Skenderbeu players were giving the ball away and were not closing down their opponents as before reports say, as if they invited them to score. It didn't take much and what was meant to happen, happened. Crusaders scored twice before hitting the woodwork three times in just five minutes. 3-2, game won, WOW!
Odds for the under/over live betting markets were evenly priced at the Asian bookmakers, with just a couple of minutes left to be played, As every bettor will confirm, this is unusual and never happens to a normal game. Other reports suggest unusually huge amounts of money having been wagered on the over.
I'm not a prosecutor and I can't accuse anyone (yet) with no proves. But odds movements in Asia and the strange way players behaved in those last minutes and adding the fact it wouldn't be the first time when such things happen when Albanian teams are involved (some sources say this is the only reason why they struggle for a Champions League/Europa League spot), are a fact, and should really put questions marks on what is UEFA going to do about. Are they going to keep quiet and pretend that nothing happened, or will UEFA Delegate Luis Cuervas Del Real and UEFA Referee Observer Peter Jones, report about?
As a football fan and as a bettor too, I don't want to see such things. These things are bad for football and are illegal. If Skenderbeu are proved to have fixed that match, they should be banned from playing in Europe and punished by law.
Teddie, the AsianHandicapTipster