9 Appalling Corruption in Sports Statistics

Over the past two decades, corruption activities in sports have increased as the industry has grown. An estimated $1.7 trillion is used each year for illegal betting markets. 

Sports has been a haven for millions of players and fans; however, this is also the playing ground for organized crime groups and even sports officials to earn large sums of money with their dirty tricks and schemes. 

Here are shocking statistics about corruption in sports. 

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Highlights of the Article

  • FIFA executives received $150 million worth of bribes for over 20 years.
  • 12% of the illegal gambling market worldwide was from Tennis.
  • The competition manipulation in Starcraft 2 resulted in 8 people being arrested.
  • 10 Chinese snooker players were accused of match-fixing.
  • A Malaysian and Hungarian-based crime syndicate profited $2 million from an Australian soccer game
  • Sports is perceived as the 2nd most corrupt industry based on the UK public’s opinion.
  • An estimated €120 million in illicit earnings annually were tied to match-fixing in sports gambling worldwide.
  • FIFA’s $28 million unexplained expenses were due to 20 soccer officials.
  • Due to corruption, 69% of football fans are losing interest in the sport.

How Common is Corruption in Sports?

corruption in sports statistics

There were a total of 230 cases of sports corruption reported by the media worldwide. The most common forms of corruption are:

  • Performance enhancing drugs
  • Illegal equipment
  • Bribery
  • Graft 
  • Illegal betting grounds

To get a better context on sports corruption, the article is divided into 3 parts:

  • Corruption report by sport
  • Corruption report by the country
  • Loss and damages caused by sports corruption

Let’s dive into it.

Corruption Report by Sport

Sports are celebrated worldwide, with an annual revenue of roughly $145 billion. The multibillion-dollar industry is home to legendary athletes. It also serves as a haven for corrupt sports officials and organized crime syndicates.

Although there are several anomalies in sports, look at the statistics about corruption reports in football, tennis, and esports

1. FIFA executives received over $150 million in bribes for 2 decades.


The US Department of Justice revealed the 47-count and numerous-page criminal indictment charging 7 FIFA executives and several accomplices. One charge was bribery from marketing groups offering a placement for advertising TV deals.

The general public has questioned the integrity of FIFA in organizing soccer sports since it was proven that FIFA’s high-ranking officials were stealing large sums of money from marketing, ads, and TV contracts. 

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Side Note

Aside from physical bets, illegal activities are also prevalent in the online sports betting scene, notably involving crypto bets. This is due to the unregulated nature of crypto gambling, which is one of its biggest downsides.

2. Tennis shares 12% of the illegal gambling market worldwide.


Among all the gambling markets in the world, 12% of match-fixing and illegal gambling activities occurred in the tennis playoffs. 

Tennis is vulnerable to corruption, such as match-fixing, since matches are duos or singles. It’s easier to bribe two individuals than a team of 12–15 to intentionally lose the game in exchange for more considerable money than the actual prize of the tournament.

3. 8 people were arrested for competition manipulation in an E-Sport Starcraft 2. 


In the Republic of Korea, 8 people were arrested for match-fixing during an eSports tournament of Starcraft 2 in October 2015. It was discovered that programmers, a network of brokers, and financial backers were behind the manipulation.

eSports competition is the easiest target for corruption since the sports arena is a digital setup. Digital cheating is prevalent in virtual and eSports competitions. 

Sports Corruption by Country

The 2022 Tokyo Olympics had 11,420 athletes from 206 participating countries. This highlights how each country in the world values sports. 

However, it is obvious that there are instances of undetected corruption and undiscovered unlawful betting in both local and international sporting events.

Below are some reports of sports corruption involving some countries and their nationalities. 

4. 10 Chinese snooker players were accused of match-fixing.


In October 2022, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association accused 10 Chinese snooker players of manipulating the game’s outcome for betting purposes.

Organized crime gangs that facilitate match-fixing in world competitions with over a million viewers have taken over the snooker game. 

It was discovered that organized crime gangs in China caused most of the illegal betting and match-fixing.

5. Around $2 million was profited by a Malaysian and Hungary-based crime syndicate from an Australian soccer game.

(Australian Institute of Criminology)

It was discovered that match-fixing crime syndicates had plagued Australia’s Victorian Premier League in 2013. The coach, 4 UK players, and a Malaysian national were charged with game manipulation.

An investigation found that the Malaysian national acted as a middleman between the coaches and the players.

6. Citizens of the UK perceive sports as the 2nd most corrupt in the country.

(Transparency International UK)

Transparency International UK revealed that the public sees sports as the 2nd most corrupt sector in the country.

Sports has been home to multi-billion-dollar deals and is deeply rooted in political and private interests, allowing corruption to occur with its immense resources.

Loss/Damages Caused By Sports Corruption Statistics

The money laundered in sports corruption amounts to approximately $800 billion to $2 trillion annually. Corrupt practices and the illegal betting market were behind this global corruption.

The following statistics will explore the loss and damage of sports corruption.

7. Approximately €120 million in illicit earnings from match-fixing were tied to betting worldwide annually. 


Europol’s 2019 investigation estimated that the global market for all sports is worth €1.69 trillion, and the total earnings by crime syndicates are €120 million a year.

Organized crime groups worldwide manipulate competitive sports to elicit money through illegal betting. Their standard scheme involves bribing players and coaches to lose matches intentionally.

Private channel and illicit betting network organizers are the same syndicates that offer large sums of money to athletes and coaches.

8. FIFA lost $28 million due to 20 soccer officials.

( New York Times ) 

With the corruption scandal that exposed FIFA executives in 2015, an investigation by the US Department of Justice discovered that an estimated $28 million had been used to pay 20 soccer officials and their unexplained expenses. 

The embezzled millions were found in multiple accounts and channels owned by their former leaders.

9. 69% of FIFA fans are turning their backs on football.

(Transparency International)

The Transparency International survey showed: 

  • 69% of fans have no trust in FIFA
  • 50% said that FIFA would recover from its issue and restore its reputation
  • 43% said that scandals are affecting how they enjoy football
  • 60% would not vote for anyone endorsed by FIFA to act as its leader

The public’s trust in the organizers’ and governing bodies’ integrity dropped drastically. If this continues, ticket sales, pay-per-view, and other advertising will also be affected. 


Despite the pride and honor that sports bring to each of the countries they represent, it is undeniable that the industry is plagued with corrupt officials and global money-laundering syndicates. 

Strict regulation of legal betting channels and enforcing full transparency in the funds managed by different sports organizations are two changes the industry needs. 

Sports corruption is a global issue that requires international cooperation. These unlawful activities are manufactured behind closed doors, putting sports’ integrity at risk.


Which is the most popular sport in the world?

Soccer has the most extensive fan base, with over 3.5 billion fans worldwide, followed by cricket (2.5 billion) and hockey (2 billion).

Is match-fixing a crime?

Yes, it violates Section 240 of the Crime Act—the offense of obtaining a benefit or causing a loss by deception.

What year has the highest recorded number of suspicious sports matches?

2021 was the highest year that Sportradar Integrity Service has ever recorded, with 903 suspicious sports matches.