Cryptocurrencies facilitate gambling on the most popular sport in the world, suggest sports authorities.
Asian football has experienced a sharp drop in match fixing in the past six years, according to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in a Reuters article dated February 14. However, the illegal gambling that has historically led to match-fixing in the region has increased, in part due to the rise of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment.
Corruption and match-fixing
AFC and its partner for integrity, the Swiss company Sportradar, have been working together to fight corruption in Asian football since 2013.
Previously, a handful of large global unions exploited gambling and illicit match fixing, but thanks to AFC cleanup efforts, this has become the domain of lone wolves and local gangs.
Oscar Brodkin, director of intelligence and investigation at Sportradar, said: “With imprisoned or disturbed figures and high-profile cases debated in the media, match-fixing in the past five years has become much more fragmented . “
Illegal gambling on the rise
However, throughout this period, the amounts of bets became larger and the traditional payment methods were replaced by cryptocurrencies and even payments in kind. Brodkin said:
“We have seen an increase in the adoption of cryptocurrency as a means of payment for illegal activities and as a means of betting.”
Transparency International estimated the illicit gaming market in Asia at around 400 billion dollars in 2018. Gaming is technically illegal on most of the continent, including the most populous countries: mainland China, India, Indonesia , Pakistan and Bangladesh.
As Cointelegraph reported, in Europe, football’s relationship with crypto is more positive, with several clubs launching blockchain-based fan tokens to increase engagement. More recently, the Spanish power of football, FC Barcelona, has teamed up with fintech platform Chiliz to create a blockchain-based token for the sports franchise.