- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062308076
- ISBN-13: 978-0062308078
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,818,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Big Fix: The Hunt for the Match-Fixers Bringing Down Soccer Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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From the Publisher
Brett Forrest Explains the Origin of The Big Fix
'It all started in a bull session with Donnie Kwak, my editor at ESPN The Magazine. Donnie had been bird-dogging some soccer games that didn’t add up. He and I knew very little about match-fixing. But it didn’t take an expert to understand that when one national team beats another by a dozen goals, there’s probably more to the story. Was there ever. Once I began investigating the phenomenon of modern match-fixing—the manipulation of soccer games for the purpose of illegal betting—I didn’t get far before I realized that I was sitting on a grave and fundamentally important story that held implications far beyond sports. My two-year journey had begun. There’s nothing new about fixing. People have manipulated sporting matches since the beginning of organized athletics. Early on, motivation hewed to the political and the personal (let my team win in front of our hometown fans, and I’ll return the favor), and in some places and instances, it still does today. Gambling has also played a central role over the centuries, with the 1919 World Series a particular case in point. However, I learned quickly in my reporting that what’s happening now in soccer is unprecedented. And it might be unstoppable. I was lucky to encounter Chris Eaton early in my research. Eaton was the head of security at FIFA at the time. To me, he was instantly likeable, precisely in the ways that a bureaucrat would find him infuriating. Nearly everyone who had a stake in the game—FIFA execs, national soccer federation officials, players and coaches, sponsors—couched the scourge of match-fixing in apologetic terms. Or they avoided discussion of it entirely. Not Eaton. Whereas soccer administrators threw up their hands in resigned, falsely worldly understanding, Eaton approached match-fixing like the cop that he had always been. He wanted to map the crime, understand it, wipe it out. He appeared to grasp a fundamental truth that escaped others, that match-fixing threatened the game of soccer itself. After all, why do we watch the games? Because we don’t know how they’ll turn out. If we begin to believe, based on available evidence, that the sport is rigged, it stands to reason that our interest will fade. And what of the game then? Eaton was only half of the cops-and-robbers story, as it began to envelop me. The other half was Wilson Perumal, a shadowy figure squirreled away in Budapest, a guest of the local constabulary. Perumal, a Singaporean, was the most infamous match-fixer in the world. Understanding his story allowed me to peer into the sophisticated, underground world of the fixer and his backers in global organized crime. Perumal’s rise and fall and subsequent rise mirrored the evolution of the international gambling market, how the proliferation of the Internet and the growth of the Chinese economy very nearly reinvented gambling as we know it. Getting to Perumal himself provided its own adventure. When I explain modern match-fixing to people who are unfamiliar with it, I’m met with a uniform reaction: stunned silence, followed by a round of feverish questions. This is a shocking crime, particularly because it’s playing out right in front of us. How did it happen? Why does it continue? The Big Fix tells that story.'
From the Back Cover
Can the most beloved sport in the world beat the corruption that threatens to tear it apart?
Known as the "beautiful game," soccer is the world's most popular sport, crossing borders and language barriers to entertain billions. But underneath it all—the raucous fans in the stadiums; the beloved players; and FIFA, the international governing body with a membership of 209 national associations—is a scandal that threatens to make soccer the ugliest sport in the world. An underworld of international gambling rings, corrupt players and officials, and shadowy figures preys on the far-flung edges of the game, making match-fixing in soccer one of organized crime's new, profitable businesses.
Now, for the first time, journalist Brett Forrest takes us inside the $700 billion international soccer betting market. In 2013 Europol revealed that more than 700 international matches have been fixed since 2008. Forrest pulls back the curtain, exposing a web of nefarious dealings across the world, even on U.S. soil, with opportunistic fixers bribing players, influencing officials, and staging fake matchups, while Asian criminal syndicates pull the strings. No match is safe—not even the World Cup tournament—especially while local law enforcement officials lack the resources and the will to investigate.
But one man has taken on this criminal enterprise: Chris Eaton, a hardheaded Australian, longtime Interpol director, and the former head of security for FIFA. Forrest follows Eaton's journey from local beat cop to FIFA's security chief for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It was at this competition that Eaton first grasped the extent of match-fixing and the threat it posed to the game. From that point on, Eaton made it his mission to track down the elusive perpetrators: fixers who shed identities, crisscross borders, and target players and clubs on behalf of international criminal syndicates.
Filled with headline-making revelations, The Big Fix is a must-read for soccer fans and true crime aficionados. The story brings us inside Chris Eaton's hunt for the world's biggest fixers and their backers—from the roots of fixing in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, to FIFA headquarters in Zurich and World Cup preparation in South Africa and Qatar, to fixing's expansion into nearly every country in the world—and the fight to save the beautiful game.
About the Author
Brett Forrest is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and has written for Vanity Fair, National Geographic, The Atlantic, and the New York Times Magazine. He has lived in Russia, Ukraine, and Brazil.
Top customer reviews
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If you don't already have a good handle on betting, odds-making and gambling terminology in general, this book is likely to leave you wondering what you just read and whether it was worth the time it took to read it. Unfortunately, I fit both categories since I've never been a gambler or associated with any. If you already know a lot about basket weaving, I suggest you spend the hours you might have spent with this book reading more about basket weaving.
Beyond the cat-and-mouse aspects of the book, Forrest's work is notable for its descriptions of how the spectre of match-fixing permeated the game's highest levels. It's a perfect storm of the ascendancy of Chinese wealth (a country of serious gamblers), the rise of Internet bookmaking sites (creating market-making and transborder cash flow) and strapped international federations hungry for cash.
My favorite passages of the book weren't directly related to either Eaton or Perumal. They involved Carsten Koerl, founder of Bet to Win, later renamed to Bwin, one of the foremost Internet bookers (and coincidentally a prominent sponsor of many top-flight clubs). Koerl went on to found Sportradar (and later Betradar), whose speciality is in spotting games whose betting action -- as compared to expectations -- made them outliers and possible fraud cases.