March 24, 2011
In WSC 288 I wrote about a Serie B game between AlbinoLeffe and Piacenza on which all betting was suspended in advance. Piacenza’s match at Atalanta last Saturday was similarly odd and, like that other fixture, is now the subject of an investigation.
It finished 3-0 to Atalanta, and apparently there were an unusual number of bets placed on that being the score at the end of the first half and at the end of the game. As the match footage shows, both penalties were correctly awarded but were gifts from Piacenza’s defence while it almost looks as though the goalkeeper made no attempt to save either of them. And the third goal, in which the Piacenza defence goes awol, would have embarrassed a Sunday morning park team.
Without the knowledge of the strange betting patterns, one could put all this down to bad play by Piacenza. An alternative reading is that when Atalanta had failed to score in the first 34 minutes, Piacenza were forced to take matters into their own hands (literally in the case of the first penalty) to make sure that the prediction of at least three goals in the first half came true. If Atalanta had been in on it, it’s likely that the goals would have been more spaced out and there wouldn’t have been two penalties.
The explanation for Atalanta not adding to their score would be that they knew that Piacenza would make no effort to get back into the game, so the second half was just 45 minutes of going through the motions by both teams. Of course, any suspicions may be unfounded and it could be coincidental that the preferred result was still allowed to materialise despite the betting patterns being reported in the papers on the day of the match.
Trawling the net I see that "suspicious betting patterns" are not unknown in the UK either. But of course the evidence is always circumstantial and no action will be taken until players come out with an admission. It’s yet another demonstration of the deadly peril posed by single match betting, and even more so if you can even bet on the outcome of each half. Why was it ever allowed it to be introduced?