Suspicions Hover Over Bets on Fixed Soccer Games

The Israel Sports Betting Board suspects that a number of gamblers have been betting on "safe games" in Third and Fourth Division League and Toto Cup games, thus ensuring their chances of winning.

Despite the suspicion that soccer games have been fixed, the board and Israel Football Association prefer to ignore the suspicions rather than involve the police.

The board has an automatic mechanism that can block bets on certain games. However, it is activated only a few hours before games start, and those who have already placed bets can at least double their investment.

In recent months, the bets have been closed on several occasions, usually in Third Division or Toto Cup games. The board believes that certain people are trying to bet high sums in these games, and may be determining the game results.

"About a month ago there was a Toto Cup game between Maccabi Be'er Sheva and Hapoel Ramat Gan, and I know that a number of betters knew the game would end in a 0-0 draw," the chairman of a Third Division team said this week. "The betting closed that morning, and nobody opened an inquiry into who bet and how much. The final score was 0-0."

Sports Betting Board Director General Shaul Schneider said: "There are rumors and reports, but meanwhile, nothing has been proved. We cannot open an inquiry based on rumors. We rely on the Israel Football Association. The decision to close bets on games is our call, and is made based on business and professional considerations. However, we are aware that suspicions of fixing games grow, so we will ask the football association to increase its supervision."