UK & World News
Match-Fixing Claims Damage Scotland Friendly
The Scotland versus Nigeria fixture is already devalued.
Who, now, will not watch it and wonder if they can believe in everything they see?
That a soft tackle, an open goal missed or a fluffed attempt at a save isn't the result of a brown envelope delivery to a team hotel?
The spectre of match-fixing will haunt any sporting contest, given the slightest encouragement.
It's not clear what form that encouragement has taken with regard to the Scotland v Nigeria game, but it has damaged the fixture in a way Fifa will not want repeated in the World Cup.
It would kill the tournament and the game itself would struggle to recover.
Brazil will host hundreds of players. All top professionals, but many with no chance of victory and no prospect of earning the millions pocketed by the likes of Suarez, Gerrard and Messi.
What would be a result for them in Brazil? For some, maybe it would be ten thousand dollars in their back pocket from a gambling syndicate in the Far East. The player who might ask himself: why not?
Hopefully, a voice in his head would tell him to consider the victims. I count myself among them.
I'm currently reading the excellent book by Richard Gordon - "Scotland '74: A World Cup Story."
It reveals suspicions among Scotland players surrounding the score line that sealed their first round exit - the 9-0 defeat of Zaire by Yugoslavia.
There is no evidence that the match was fixed but, 40 years on, the doubts of the dressing room raise questions.
At a criminal level, there are serious matters that should, perhaps, have been addressed.
But beyond that are the hopes and dreams of the Tartan Army of the day.
Could that dream team with Billy Bremner, Denis Law et al have got closer to the trophy, as close as we all thought they might? Were they as good as we thought they were?
I suppose we'll never know. We'll never know if they simply weren't good enough because now we think they might have been thwarted by cheats.
Maybe we could have been World Cup winners... let the torture of '74 begin. Again.
A victimless crime? No way. Match-fixing kills the dream. And if you kill the dream, you kill football.