Once again I may quote this sentence here, and here it does have a special meaning: “Whoever wants to bet, also wants to cheat.” Originally, I maintain my opinion that the quotation originates from the fact that in the dim and distant past, a betting offer came about like this: “There are 400,000 Greeks living in Chicago.” “Nah, I don’t think so.” “
Yes, it does. Wanna bet?”
Bets were made on facts, at least the suggestion was made. And there you can say with some conviction, “Well, if you really want to bet on it, I guess you know it for sure. And even if you pretend that you are only ‘guessing’. And then it’s a kind of cheating after all.”
Very well, even though I cannot agree with this line of thought without reservation (my reservations: if someone is going to spout gross verbal nonsense, I would at least like to have a powerful means of silencing him. And that is a betting proposition. “Bet your testimony or keep quiet!”), I can at least understand this form of interpretation.
As a second possibility of an “attempt to deceive”, one could also suggest that someone claims to do a handstand for 10 minutes or to cover the kilometre in 3 minutes and to do it on foot. And if someone should now express doubts and one could involve him in a bet (“All right, if you don’t believe it, bet against it and I’ll show you.”), then one could also begin to speak of an attempt to deceive. The man might know that he can do handstands or run fast better than he is given credit for. Nevertheless, he could also lose. A gust of wind, an attack of weakness. Alternatively to this form of “failure”, one could even imagine that the person betting against it exerts influence on his part. So during the handstand he starts telling jokes (apart from even meaner “boycott attempts” like tickling or something) or during the 1000-metre run we set a Bei or another trap. But there we go again: cheating here and there.
Here, too, I would plead for “outstanding abilities” that are called into question and, comparable to a circus, one pays something for the demonstration of this “special ability”. Nevertheless, one could not entirely absolve the person of “attempting to deceive”. He would like to make a bet that gives him a very high chance of success. Preferably with 100%.
And that is what all these bets have in common, so to speak. One would like to bet as close as possible to 100% chance of winning. Everyone who makes such a suggestion wants, or, in former times, “wanted”, to make a bet that gives him as close to a one hundred percent chance of winning as possible. However, the attempt alone is not yet punishable in that sense, in my opinion. You are just somehow looking for “a fool” who “doesn’t believe” some fact and is therefore willing to bet his money against it.
The fact that such bets were sometimes made “with odds” does not detract from the matter. Provided one has 100%, one can in principle not care about the odds. So if you bet on a fact or a skill where you are pretty sure that the event you are betting on is “certain” in the conventional sense, i.e. close to 100% (remember: every event that lies in the future has a probability of occurrence because it depends at least on the progress of time, which cannot be guaranteed to us), the payout odds do not really matter. So the phrase, also occasionally heard in gambling circles in the past, “I’ll pay you ten times the money.” reflects this assessment. “I know that what I say is true. So I can pay you 10 (it would even be 11.0, ten times the money).”
So the proverb somewhere, like so many proverbs, of which I am also basically a follower, has its justification. Of course, that too logically and derived elsewhere (chapter “Philosophy of Happiness”): it is a phrase, a mnemonic phrase for my sake, that was/is used and quoted a lot and often. It is an expression. So it has its justification, it simply has to have it, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. The fact that it is also possible to differentiate such a statement with gains in knowledge is somewhat reminiscent of Bohr’s atomic model. At the time, this was sufficient to describe the phenomena that could be observed up to that point sufficiently well. But with further development, with improved observation possibilities and other phenomena occurring, it had to be considered “insufficient”, if not fundamentally “wrong”. New models had to be developed in order to be able to describe the phenomena that occur.
In principle, therefore, the proverb has a kernel of truth. However, there are many ways to bet and play “fairly”. Each side calculates its chances, but each of the two sides also admits the possibility of either making a mistake, i.e. having made a bad assessment and therefore having lost, or of losing through bad luck. So the assessment was basically correct, but the outcome of the event was unfavourable in the sense that one loses the bet and therefore pays out. This can affect both the bettor himself and the betting provider. Basically, in today’s betting market there is no longer even a difference between these two sides, which traditionally could be kept so plainly apart. Anyone can act as a provider or as a player.
First and foremost, of course, this type of betting refers to the “unmanipulated” games. Both sides may try to gain an advantage through information (1) I can read coffee grounds. 2) I consulted my fortune teller. 3) I read my horoscope today and it says I’m lucky today. 4) in the last 10 games Hannover has always lost in Cologne. 5) today Marko Pantelic is missing and without him Hertha is worth nothing. So I play Dortmund. 6) Werder have put their focus on the DFB Cup. They “let themselves down” in the championship. I play HSV. 7) My feeling is that Schalke will do it today. 8) I found a lucky penny today. 9) Jürgen Klopp has a very bad record against VfB Stuttgart or 10) The rate of 2.10 on Bayern is just too high in Hoffenheim. I’m playing that because of the odds), but the bet remains fair. Everyone can lose or win. And everyone is also sure to get the money. Of course, it could also be “fraud” if the bet is made “on call” and someone simply knows in advance that he will not pay. This debt is not enforceable. One may spoil one’s reputation, perhaps one can only do it once in a lifetime. Perhaps it is also not advisable to do so because the other person “doesn’t care” about the means by which he gets his money.
But all these are, of course, only “side notes” for this chapter.
2) Real betting fraud
Here we are talking about real fraud. I would like to describe a few dubious incidents, a few practical examples, the reactions on the betting market and everything else that is connected with it.
Now the question here is whether I should follow a “chronology” or whether ranking by “seriousness of the offence” would be more welcome. I decide, as always, firstly spontaneously and secondly according to my own personal feelings.
So that one has always rumoured is actually clear, as long as one is busy in the betting market. One senses the first signs of fraud, of collusion, of possible “little helps” quite early on. The question is then only what significance one attaches to it oneself, what significance is attributed to it by the official side (well, including the media, which can often determine that) and what influence it has on the betting market, how it reacts to it.
I’ll take the order that comes to mind.
a. The Bundesliga scandal
This, of course, had no significance whatsoever on the betting market. It was in 1971, I was a young and highly enthusiastic football fan, went to the Hertha stadium as often as I could, played football myself and, despite my father’s scepticism, on numerous previous occasions always believed in the good (I still do; I also like to be classified as “childish” and “naive”; I don’t mind at all; I’m also not surprised that I’ve run out of money, especially not, hehe).
On that sunny day in early summer, the unbelievable happened. One had already had a very faint suspicion beforehand. I just pushed them aside. But now the bombshell burst. I went to the stadium as often as I could. I was able to watch Hertha’s historic home victory against Borussia Dortmund, the legendary 9:1, live in the stadium. A feast for the eyes, a treat, an absolute highlight. And a small, late (almost) compensation for my first visit to the Olympiastadion, when Tasmania, still responsible for all negative records, conceded the equally historic 0:9 against the then Meidericher SV (soon to become MSV Duisburg), which has endured to this day as the “highest home defeat in Bundesliga history” (should it be otherwise when you read this, at least it did for 43 years until I wrote these lines here). Then VfB Stuttgart was “dispatched” with 3:1. Well, these were not easy times for Hertha fans. One was getting bored. The balance after the 16th home game, i.e. before the game against Arminia Bielefeld, is: 14 wins, 2 draws. Defeats? That’s not possible. And certainly not against Bielefeld…. The slightly overconfident Hertha fans were already chanting out of sheer boredom “Hertha has no more opponents — send us Inter Milan here” (sure, Inter were the current European Cup winners; the fact that even this wish was granted had a rather very insipid aftertaste; for Borussia Mönchengladbach had beaten Inter Milan 7: 0, also in the European Cup; only one of the Italians, Boninsegna, had already realised the hopelessness of the endeavour “to advance in an honest way” and spontaneously threw himself to the ground; he was taken away; the report “hit by a can” and “seriously injured” were rather a slap in the face; and that for all football fans; because: the match was actually scheduled for a replay; the match had to be played 400 km away from Mönchengladbach, because of the evil “can-throwers”; the choice fell on Berlin; Inter “managed” a 0:0 and was further; absurd; but apropos “scandal” and “manipulations”; well, at least Inter was there for once, even if decidedly “inglorious”).
Personally, I had a small football tournament to play that afternoon. And despite the omnipresent regret of not being able to go to the stadium (it wasn’t just that afternoon; we often had our games on Saturdays), playing ourselves always came first. We also managed a 0:0 against VfL Schöneberg in the last game of the tournament and we were even tournament winners when I got the incredible news: Hertha had lost 0:1 against Bielefeld!
The tournament win was no longer worth anything, everything around me seemed to lose significance. And it wasn’t pure Hertha fanaticism that shocked me so horribly. It was the certain feeling that “something was wrong”. Hertha was still in 3rd place, a great result actually. Bielefeld had avoided relegation with that win. But hadn’t they also won at Schalke a few weeks earlier? Also with 1:0? Hadn’t a few thoughts already “sprouted” there? Nevertheless, I watched the sports show a little later. It was all dull and dark, that’s how I felt. Then, when I saw my idol Zoltan Varga actually hit a ball against the crossbar, I tried to convince myself for that moment that they had played “honestly” after all. After all, what if the ball had gone in? Unfortunately, I soon found the simple solution: in that case, the backline would have “stumbled past the ball” a second time.
And the next day the bombshell officially burst: the aggrieved Offenbacher Kickers, in the person of Horst-Gregorio Canellas, had a tape recording of a conversation with the Hertha player Bernd Patzke. The content of this recording, which I would have liked to ignore, could no longer be denied: Patzke had answered Mr Canellas’ request that they please beat Bielefeld and be allowed to collect a hefty victory bonus for doing so (which would have been “illegal enough”, but at least they would have been playing to win) with “Nah, Bielefeld pays a lot more, we get 225,000 DM.” So, mutatis mutandis, and the amount is probably correct, especially in the order of magnitude.
Well, the ball started rolling. All sorts of manipulated games were brought out. Bielefeld was condemned to relegation in the course of the next season. But there was no redemption in that sense. A world had collapsed for me. The enthusiasm that was otherwise so great was so dampened that, even in my memory now, I really fell into a kind of permanent depression. The thing I had enjoyed by far the most up to that point in my whole life was destroyed. It could never be the way I had felt before. At that time, I was already an ardent statistics fan and had carefully analysed all the tables, studied every table intensively, read through all the football weeks year by year, all this out of pure football enthusiasm. All that was no longer worth anything. Even my own career was severely curtailed.
The fact that later on a lot of footballers were punished, especially many from Hertha, while later there was the “general amnesty”, although the Schalkers had all perjured themselves, intensified these feelings even more. Above all, there was no “justice” at all, which chief prosecutor Kindermann (whom I nevertheless hated and despised beyond measure) had demanded so much and for which he supposedly fought. Hertha always had a well-filled stadium in the years since re-promotion. In the first year, the stadium had a record attendance, both on average and in absolute terms, with 44,000 spectators and more per game, and especially against Cologne over 88,000 paying(!) spectators (the stadium was completely overcrowded, however, as some had simply stormed the ticket offices after the tickets had been sold out; I sat in the upper ring in the curve for this game, but on the stairs, as did many others; Hertha even won 1:0, and there were over 90,000 spectators).
I wasn’t the only one missing the following season, when the average dropped to about 12,000 and the minus record was somewhere around 4,000. I kind of begrudged them that, although I also despised myself for it. It was a kind of love-hate relationship. How could I ever love them again, who had disappointed me so much?
All the detail in these descriptions is “owed” to only one circumstance: I simply had to come to terms with the corruptness and venality of people at an early age. This had no direct influence on betting, betting behaviour and the much later betting fraud.
And what was Reinhard Mey’s catchy song about a certain “Annabelle”, published at about the same time? “Destroy my rose-coloured glasses – and my garden gnome idyll. I beg you, come be so good, destroy my perfect world.” But while Reinhard Mey had to beg for it, it happened to me rather unsolicited….
3) The Toto scandal in Italy in 1980
Of course, our media only reported about it cautiously, it wasn’t made public, especially since people were not exactly squeamish about Italy, its inhabitants and their mentality with prejudices (see story above). Nevertheless, so much could be learned:
Numerous players (27 of them, including some national players) were “bribed” to play certain games and thus bring in some nice little sums of money for the bribers. By the way, I also assume that our reporters lacked a certain understanding, because at least in those days betting had hardly any meaning (there was only the Toto and that was guaranteed to be “clean”).
Of course, the whole thing was blown up again for a curious reason (just like the scandal in Germany, which was only “opened” by a perpetrator himself, who was nevertheless the aggrieved party at the same time). Here, too, what the briber probably did not have in mind happened: the games did not turn out as desired. The only “aggrieved party” was the perpetrator and main perpetrator of the scandal, but this happened twice (I would prefer to say three times): he not only “blew” the bribes himself, but also the bets.
For the sake of explanation, I would like to insert here the knowledge I acquired much later, which makes the story really understandable, and in doing so I risk (as I used to do on “Aktenzeichen XY … unsolved) that the next imitators will at least do it “properly”. So here is the explanation:
In Italy there was the official Toto at that time, comparable to ours. But since you had to “guess” 13 games there, it was not really an option for large-scale fraud. But at that time, the “Toto nero” was also offered. The “black Toto”. Here, restaurant owners (I won’t say mafia) or other private individuals who were “responsible” for a solid payout of winnings simply offered bets on the games, analogous to the Toto. The payout amounts were probably based on the Toto payouts, but it was also possible to bet on a smaller number of games and receive a payout for that. It is comparable to an (illegal) betting office, but I guess the payout odds were much less favourable than you would get today for the same number or selection of games. The providers profited even more from the stupidity of the players (I’ll give a single example that can shed light on this: it was probably offered that you had to guess three games correctly and if you succeeded, you would receive the same money as a payout; that is, odds of 2. 0; if you divide these odds into 3 games, the single odds you get are 1.26; and you never get such high favourites, even when Inter and Milan play at home and the opponents at that time were Bari and Pisa; in plain German, the odds were so bad that the players could only lose, unless they…).
So the bribers themselves probably wanted to make sure that three games would go their way, they would make an illegal bet about it (let’s say several, at different pubs, that is). They “commissioned” a total of 27 players and paid them in advance. However, the games did not take the desired outcome, two of the teams that were sure to lose played “only” 1:1. All the money was gone. The victimised fraudsters now wanted their money back. Since they certainly could not collect it for the bets they had placed (“Uh, can you please pay me my bet anyway, because I had bought the game; actually Udinese should have won.”), they probably tried the players. They certainly refused and claimed (and I firmly believe that they were right) that they alone could not have caused the defeat. Their team-mates refused to play, the coach substituted two of them because of their obvious “refusal to perform”, and on top of that the opponent was simply too weak and didn’t score. “So what?” the aggrieved parties then replied, “you would have grabbed the ball yourself and hit it into your own goal, you idiot, now hand over the money!” On repeated rejection of the request (an even deeper insight into my dark soul? Alright: my guess is that the players might even have agreed to refund the sums they had received. But the aggrieved parties were not content with that. “I bet 3 million liras on the three results alone. You still owe me that money!” they argued. And that, even with the best will in the world, would simply have been going too far.
The cheated cheaters felt aggrieved, were broke and had nothing left to lose anyway. So they dreamed of a career as “chief prosecutors”, thought of making a film of the whole story or simply used their last means of pressure (“if you don’t pay, I’ll spill the beans!”). In any case, they spilled the beans. Of course, the accused players initially denied everything until all incriminating material (tape recordings, signed and cashed cheques, for example) was brought to the table. The scandal was there.
But the punishments were extremely lenient. And I have understanding for that, too. There were only a few “main offenders”. These were the gentlemen who planned (and to a certain extent implemented) the bribery attempt. The players who accepted money can at least claim that they received the money but did not carry out the plan. They can even plead “bait-and-switch mentality”. “It was only thanks to our unprecedented efforts that you were able to catch the real culprits.” Wasn’t it a certain Paolo Rossi, who was involved at the time, who shot Italy to the world championship title two years later?
One thing, however, was obvious to me even then: even those responsible have no great global interest in “clarification”. Who likes to saw the branch they are sitting on? It’s comparable to cycling, where it was actually known for years and yet the people in charge resisted revealing everything. People still swallow it, so leave cycling as it is. Only when the burden of proof is overwhelming will they be forced to do so. And then at some point there will only be the “sweeping up of the pieces”. The sport is gone, burnt, broken. Unthinkable in football?