Sportradar has released a white paper with main findings, perspectives and observations on ‘ghost games’ in support of betting stakeholders and the global sports community.
Oscar Brodkin, Sportradar Director of Intelligence & Investigative Services, has created the white paper titled ‘Ghost Games: An Explanation.’
The paper describes a ghost game as a match that essentially does not take place as described, and is falsely marketed to bookmakers, punters and the public in order to make profit from the betting markets, with the perpetrators having advanced knowledge of the final score they have agreed on.
Brodkin provides a strong distinction between the ghost game roles and goals as opposed to traditional match-fixing as writing the white paper.
The report said: “Matches fixed for betting profits happen every day and they are real in every way. The games do take place as advertised, the teams (or individuals) are full-strength, but intend to manipulate some or all of the match contrary to the betting markets’ expectations.”
Sportradar makes more findings revealing the gang’s plan to exploit security weak points related to live sport data transmission.
Unlike other smaller types of data fraud where criminals concentrate on data errors due to time delays to gain an advantage over betting markets, ghost games concentrate on relaying completely fake data on predicted outcomes to bookmakers.
The accuracy of their fake simulations is the key element for criminal gangs in achieving their expected outcomes.
The paper added: “Fixers are not just 30 seconds or 30 minutes ahead of the action; they are aware of the final score because the events are inputted at their discretion. To pull off a ghost match, a scout or a syndicate must adhere to a number of principles, plan methodically, execute and ride their luck.”
In terms of money and technological know-how, Sportradar states that ghost games are more difficult than normal match-fixing for offenders to participate in.
Sportradar nevertheless notes that effects can be serious as cartels can gain large gains from their operations that are likely to be reinvested in more illegal activities targeting athletes, coaches and referees.
Additionally, the study highlights the major ‘reputational damage ‘ that ghost games can have on an individual team, union, bookmaker and data provider that is fooled by the crime.
In the case of football, gangs are likely to target lower profile leagues, increasing their capacities for commercial and defence. The effects of ghost game deceptions on finance, league trust and stakeholder reputations can be important.
Explaining the effects of the crime, Sportradar adds: “In the case of the Belarusian ghost match between SFC Slutsk and SFC Shakhter on February 3rd 2015, The Daily Telegraph featured the story. Through no fault of their own, the league might suffer financial losses such as sponsor withdrawal.”
Sportradar underlines the tracking of live and pre-match activities as the main factor in fighting ghost games through ‘quality assurance.’
To secure clients and stakeholders in football, data providers need to implement successful scout surveillance leagues in which ghost games are likely to take place.
Furthermore, data integrity is noted as a key element of which providers are expected to verify the source of information, with all fixtures and activities checked by appropriate governing authorities.
Furthermore, Sportradar encourages stakeholders to monitor audio and visual quality-related key match variables, such as whether ‘background noise’ can be documented to verify that the person is present at the match registered.
In summary, Sportradar concludes that “ghost matches will continue to be a source of excitement and an opportunity for opportunists, but successful steps are in place to counter these unusual phenomena, led by legitimate forward-thinking data providers.”