The history of match-fixing

Few people in modern football know the name of Dezso Solti. Many, however, know the results of his work: Inter's victories in the 1964 and 1965 European Cups, as well as a number of other continental games involving Italian teams.

The Hungarian 'fixer' was the man at the heart of the highest-level match-fixing yet uncovered in football history. Solti's method of choice was to invite the appointed referee to a lavish hotel room, lay out bundles of cash and maybe the keys to expensive cars, and make a few implications. Often there would be subtle suggestions about the official's future in the game.

Match-fixing has got a bit more sophisticated and a lot more technological since then, as the staggering case revealed by Europol on Monday shows. Indeed, just as football appeared to get properly dragged into the Fuentes trial in Spain, it was overshadowed by the sheer scale of the revelations.

In many ways, though, match-fixing is the worst kind of cheating possible. Because although doping still demands that the players have to do their job and leaves open the slighter chance of an upset, rigging games renders all that irrelevant. What's more, given the number of actual proven cases in football history -- as illustrated here -- match-fixing has always posed a more immediate problem for the game's officials. Only emphasising how deep an issue it has always been, the first big scandal involved the country that also gave the sport its rules.

The 1915 British football betting scandal

The great Billy Meredith knew something was up when his team-mates refused to pass him the ball. A little later, then, there was Patrick O'Connell's curiously missed penalty. Near the end, members of Fred Pagnam's own side were even remonstrating with him for rattling a shot off the crossbar.

By that point, though, it was obvious that there was something untoward happening in this game at Old Trafford. The crowd sang as much, the linesman later testified as such and the Manchester United manager, John Robson, knew as much, leaving the stadium early in disgust. Overall, there was just an odd rhythm to the game. And given the passage of history and the rancorous rivalry that has developed since, that was all the more curious when you consider the teams involved: United and Liverpool.

In April 1915, though, the Merseyside team had nothing to play for in mid-table, while United were struggling to avoid relegation. For the Manchester club, the incentive to fix was there. For Liverpool, the precedent was there. The Anfield side had been involved in notorious games against Newcastle in 1911 and Chelsea in 1913 that prompted an FA inquiry in the case of the former, and a furious Arsenal letter about the latter. Added to all that, there was also the escalation of the First World War, which seemed sure to end both competitive football and, potentially, a lot of the players' careers.

The fixture represented a chance for a quick buck. So on the Monday beforehand, players from both sides met up in The Dog and Partridge pub in Manchester and arranged to fix the match, while also placing bets at 8-1 that the game would end 2-0.

So it did, despite Pagnam's late shot. Some Liverpool players were so furious with their complicit teammates, in fact, that they threatened not to go out for the second half. With the fix so obvious, though, it was never going to escape scrutiny. Within weeks, the FA launched an investigation and eventually concluded there was "a conspiracy to defraud bookmakers." Eight players received life suspensions, although both clubs were exonerated for helping with the investigation.

English football, however, would face periodic problems over the years. Eight professionals were jailed in 1964, and former international manager Don Revie was accused by Bob Stokoe and the Daily Mirror.

The Golden Fix

It is mostly down to whistleblowers like referees Gyorgy Vadas and Francisco Marques Lobo, as well as the investigate work of Brian Glanville and the Sunday Times, that the full scale of match-fixing by Inter and Juventus in the '60s and '70s is known.

There were undeniably a handful of incidents, however, that heavily indicated something was up. In the 1963-64 European Cup semi-final, for example, there was the manner in which Yugoslav referee Branko Tesanic completely overlooked Inter's Spanish playmaker Luis Suarez kicking a Borussia Dortmund player in the stomach. At the same stage a year later, then, there was Joaquin Peiro kicking the ball out of goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence's hands for a key goal - and this after Liverpool's players had been told, following their 3-1 first-leg win, that they would not be allowed to win at the San Siro.

The following season, as Inter chased a three in a row, their luck ran out in the last four against Real Madrid. Referee Vadas refused to accept one of Solti's infamous offers. "The sum was enough to buy five, maybe six, Mercedes cars," the Hungarian told Glanville. It was Real, though, who drove on to the final and to victory.

In essence, it is remarkable that the record of an Inter team proved to have rigged games is still so revered. Right from the start of his reign, though, new president Angelo Moratti was looking to create that dynasty by any means necessary -- and it was Solti who often ensured the ends.

They weren't the only ones. Legendary manager Helenio Herrera almost reflected the attitude with his own move to more pragmatic football, with many sources saying he had suspected Real Madrid were guilty of match-fixing while he was at Barcelona. Organising the logistics, then, was club secretary Italo Allodi. Highly sought-after in Italian football, Allodi moved onto Juventus and similarly 'ran' Solti there. Most infamously, they were involved in a notorious semi-final against Derby County in 1973 which so enraged Brian Clough.

Inter, meanwhile, weren't the only European champions to engage in match-fixing. Three decades later, Marseille would arrange for Valenciennes players to go easy so that their team could win Ligue 1 but also be fresh for the 1993 Champions League final.

The Totonero scandals

Without blinking, the Perugia president Luciano Gaucci once made the extraordinary claim that "80% of the games in Italy are fixed." As far back as 1927, Torino were stripped of a championship -- with that year's records still blank -- for attempting to bribe a Juventus player in a key game. It wasn't even until 1989 that match-fixing was illegal in Italy. And running right through that was a culture that facilitated a less overt form of 'match-arranging.' Quite simply, clubs with nothing to play for were not expected to try very hard against those who were fighting for something. A famous recent example came in 2002 when Marco Materazzi admonished Lazio players for trying so hard against Inter on the last day of the season, despite him 'helping them to win the championship' with Perugia two seasons prior.

Amid all that, the Totonero scandals of 1980 and 1986 remain Italy's only concerted attempt to crack down on the problem. The first, more widespread instance, is famous for the suspension -- and subsequent World Cup redemption -- of Paolo Rossi but he only played a minor role for which there was minimal evidence. The operation was actually centred in Rome, where two local businessmen -- Massimo Cruciano and Alvaro Trinca -- planned to make money by betting on games and paying individual players to throw them.

The only problem with that was relying on individual players often wasn't enough. In one game in which Palermo were meant to draw with Taranta, a complicit defender repeatedly -- but unsuccessfully -- attempted to give away a penalty in order to prevent an away win.

In over their heads and without the money or the influence to properly follow through with their operation, Cruciano and Trinca eventually came clean. It led to Italian police making a series of arrests at half-time in the fixtures of March 23, with over 30 players and seven clubs eventually punished -- Milan and Lazio were relegated to Serie B.

Given that issues arose again six years later and that the path to the more subtle influence-peddling of Calciopoli could not be stopped, it remained a big problem despite the punishments. Turkish football, meanwhile, could face a similar set of punishments as it endures an ongoing investigation into corruption, centred on Fenerbahce.

Romania 1980-99

As Rapid Bucharest claimed a surprising 5-4 win over Dinamo, their fans came up with an even more curious chant about one of the opposing forwards: "Try harder, Camataru, you must score at least twice."

The words reflected a ludicrous situation whereby Dinamo strikers Dudu Georgescu, Rodion Camataru and Dorin Mateut had been facilitated in winning the European Golden Boot by state interference in order to bring greater glory to the Ceausescu regime.

Dinamo, to be fair, had their own grievances too. Throughout the '80s, the Steaua team that would win the 1986 European Cup also went a ridiculous 104 games unbeaten and benefitted from many a favourable decision as well as effectively designated signings. And although Mircea Lucescu argued that Dinamo's 3-0 win in the 1989-90 season -- just before the fall of the regime -- was a "sign that the generals were losing their grip," it only paved the way for more corruption. The '90s in Romanian football were dominated by a cartel of clubs who exchanged home wins in order to ensure that none were ever relegated.