Hong Kong Jockey Club won’t take bets on cash-rich Chinese Super League over corruption fears
Winter transfer binge may have piqued fans’ interest in the league, but local supporters won’t be able to wager on it
Hong Kong football fans interested in betting on the big-spending Chinese Super League this season can forget about it after the Jockey Club suggested they still have doubts about the competition’s integrity.
The CSL has grabbed the attention of football fans around the world this winter thanks to its clubs’ crazy transfer binge.
Hong Kong football supporters will be able to watch big-money signings such as Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande, € 42 million), Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning, €50 million) and Gervinho (Hebei China Fortune,€€18 million) in action after Chinese internet firm LeTV bought rights to screen it in the city.
But anyone wanting a wager to spice up their viewing will be denied, after the Jockey Club confirmed they will not be offering markets – saying they had to “safeguard the interests” of their customers.
“During the match selection process, the club considers a number of important factors including information transparency, integrity and competitiveness of football matches etc, so as to safeguard the interests of the club and our customers,” said a spokesperson.
“At this stage, we do not have any plans to offer the Chinese Super League matches.”
Chinese football has been riddled with corruption in the past, but a spokesman for the firm which will monitor it for suspected match-fixing this season said the flood of money into the CSL this winter need not make it more susceptible to illegal activity.
Under a deal struck with the Asian Football Confederation, all of Asia’s top leagues will be monitored for the first time this season by Sportradar, a company that analyses suspicious betting patterns to highlight possible match-fixing.
The CSL spent more than €300 million on new players this winter, according to transfermarkt.com but Alex Inglot, Sportradar director of communications and public affairs, said the influx of cash need not be a worry.
“I think it’s important to say first that we haven’t monitored the Chinese Super League up to this point, but if you’re looking at vulnerability or risk assessment I’m not sure a lot of money pouring in is something that would pique our interest,” said Inglot.
“Most would argue – I’m not sure if it’s true, but most would argue – that the more money you have to pay players the less susceptible they are to match-fixing, as long as they are being paid regularly.
“We wouldn’t see [the money flooding in] as a concern, what might be a concern is if players are not paid or paid irregularly – but I haven’t seen reports of that around what’s going on with the evolution in China.
“As with any country no-one can be complacent and we will be monitoring the league going forward, but at the moment I don’t think the evolution or changing landscape [in Chinese football] has made us more or less focused on it as a country.”
In 2013 the Chinese Football Association fined 12 teams and punished 58 current and former officials, players and referees for their involvement in match-fixing and bribery. Thirty-three people were banned for life.
Chris Eaton, a former top Interpol cop who is director of Sport Integrity at the International Centre for Sport and Security, told the South China Morning Post in 2014 that China was at the epicentre of global match-fixing.
“The massive illegal sports-betting market in China, by far the biggest in the world, that directly and indirectly finances the majority of the world’s betting fraud related [to] match-fixing,” he said.
“In short, China is today a major part of the problem. With change, China can be a major part of the solution.”