BBC: Football Association Considers Banning Bets by Players

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:


By Andrew Fletcher

Gambling on football is big business

English football bosses are considering whether to tighten the rules about players betting on matches.

Under current regulations a footballer can gamble on any competition which his team is not involved in.

But the Football Association is considering whether to stop players placing wagers on football altogether.

Representatives of the FA, Premier League, Football League, players' union and League Managers Association are due to discuss the issue on Monday.

The FA says the meeting has been in the diary for some time and is not a response to the current spot-fixing allegations in international cricket.

Nonetheless, those claims have increased the pressure on administrators in all major sports to ensure the risk of corruption is minimised.      

I wonder if zero tolerance...would possibly drive it underground

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor

A spokesman for the Premier League told the BBC that it was less vulnerable to corruption than some other leagues because of its huge worldwide audience and the high level of scrutiny which that inevitably brings.

But he said they were not complacent and would go into the meeting with an open mind about any proposal to strengthen the regulations on players betting.

The Professional Footballers Association is not yet convinced that a total ban is the best way forward.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said such a ban could be "a sledgehammer to crack a nut" and prove very difficult to police.

"I wonder if zero tolerance...will lead to problems with compliance, whether there will be more exposes, whether it would possibly drive it underground and leave the current situation diminished.

Josh Apiafi

Apiafi has previously worked for online betting exchange Betfair

"At the moment we have a good link-up with the betting industry and if there are any particular patterns of betting on the game, warning signals are sent out," he commented.

However, the PFA is launching a programme for young players to warn them about the risks of gambling.

The sessions will be funded by the betting industry and led by Josh Apiafi, a former chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association.

He said the course would build on the success of gambling awareness education in horse racing.

Apiafi has carried out a research project for the PFA involving more than 400 players.

There was little support among them for the idea of a total ban on footballers placing a bet.

If the football authorities do choose to introduce such a rule, he will urge them to delay its introduction for two years in order for the education programme to be rolled out first.

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