The Politics of Countermeasures against Match-Fixing in Sport: A Political Sociology Approach to Policy Instruments

As match-fixing has emerged as a global problem, states and sports organisations have proposed a range of countermeasures. Despite their neutral, technocratic appearance, these instruments produce their own political effects. This study examines how match-fixing countermeasures (re)organise the power relations within the sports betting industry. Drawing from a case study of the 2011 South Korean ‘K-league’ football match-fixing scandal that resulted in an exhaustive raft of countermeasures, three consequences are suggested. First, the education programme redefines sports ethics by delivering new codes of conduct that are strategically aligned to the demands of betting. Second, regulations instituted by the K-League and the government frame the illegal activity as infringing upon the key stakeholders’ economic interests, further privileging the importance of the betting. Third, the Early Warning System empowers the controversial betting operator as a trustworthy ‘fixer’ of the match-fixing problem by co-opting it into the policy network as an authorised monitor. Consequently, this study shows that, using the countermeasures, key stakeholders could not only manage the risk of losing legitimacy by showcasing their efforts to fight against match-fixing, but take advantage of the countermeasures to normalise the business of sports betting and further their interests.