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Double standards are not acceptable

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The Guardian reported recently on the absurd situation where football club owners are allowed to bet on matches in the UK, but their employees cannot. Jon Bruford writes that this raises a lot of questions. How? Why? Who knew?

In a story that broke in September, the Football Association (or FA) was accused of using double standards for hanging out Brentford’s Ivan Toney. Toney had been diagnosed as a gambling addict. The story was revealed in late September. In it, the Football Association (or FA) is accused of double standards after hanging out Brentford player and diagnosed gambling addict Ivan Toney.

Matthew Benham was ironically named among the gambling. According to the story, “Benham belongs to a small group of multi-millionaire club owners that enjoys an opaque agreement with FA which allows them betting. Benham is believed to have made money by placing bets in his name on the football game via a UK gambling syndicate named MSPP Admin. Benham claimed he adheres to all FA betting regulations.”

Problematic is that a person who has the power to influence team selection and possibly players is placing bets. Wouldn’t it be better to restrict this? We aren’t so stupid as to think that players alone can affect a game.

You would need about three minutes to list some shady owners of football clubs if I asked. You could answer if you made a cup tea first. This is the FA’s fault. Ivan Toney would be angry right now if he were me.


Not so clear-cut rules

The FA, as expected, hasn’t been transparent about the contract terms for these owners. The gambling industry has a stake in football, but why would this mean that betting is exempt?

As outlined by the Guardian in its follow-up article: “The FA implemented strict new betting rules before the season 2014-15. The rules appear to be simple. Anyone involved in football must refrain from betting on any match anywhere.

Why is there a need for a special exemption? Why don’t we just stop betting on the game?

But there’s another story to the gambling scandal. Why are sports bodies so bad at handling it? It’s not just the UK. In the United States, sports betting is a relatively recent phenomenon. We in the UK have no excuse. This is something we do for many decades, and we can’t seem to get it right.

These rules must be in place before any sports bodies can play. Sports betting was not something that jumped out at the US market. It had been on the horizon in some cases for many months or even years. The National Football League has moved fairly quickly to address a number of issues that have arisen this year.


What is the responsibility of industry?

Do we have to allow athletes to ruin their lives and careers when the necessary tools should have been provided to them many months, if not years in advance?

The player is expected to act responsibly if the ruling body does it correctly. The club supported the player, and everyone was on the same page. The punishment of the body is not effective if they make a mistake. They should first look at themselves before blaming the player.

Steve Ruddock explained in his Straight to the Point Newsletter that the NFL changed the rules for gambling this year. For a first offense, the punishment for gambling on non-NFL matches has been reduced to just two games. However, for betting NFL games there is now a greater penalty. The punishment for betting on NFL games is a one-year minimum suspension.

These new rules cover betting by third parties and are clearly well thought out.

In a world of sports betting, the NFL has recognized that integrity is key. Politicians have also gotten involved. Nevada congresswoman Dina T. Titus responded to the new rules: “I am glad that the NFL has made a difference between behavior that could threaten the integrity of a game and betting on legal sports.”

The punishment for betting and game-fixing in one’s league is more severe than other sports. Each sports league must remain committed to protecting their product. “Leagues should review policies periodically, with the players’ input, to make sure that they are well understood.”

Know what you’re worth

It’s a perfect example of her nailed-it. They are not laws, but rules that apply to individuals who have been contracted. These can be easily enforced. It is not difficult to maintain these rules, provided you have the will and intelligence to carry them out.

National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA for short, is also speaking out on this issue. However from a different perspective: to protect young athletes against harm and coercion.

The NCAA was not prepared for the end of PASPA and has been anything but organized since then. It’s fair to say that the NCAA was disorganized. They should have participated from the start, and not asked to be included now.

Why are we discussing this topic? One of the ways the industry could do this is by taking away criticism’s ammunition. They are not the only ones to struggle. We can certainly help.

After all, operators from other countries know the rules. Sport governing bodies can help us maintain the integrity of the product while also keeping athletes and players safe. We can use our knowledge to help others. Everyone wins.

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