Here's a brutal, must-read article from Brian Phillips detailing the bizarre, globalized game of soccer-match-rigging, which launders its influence, money and bets through countries all over the world, in what sounds like an intense, sport-themed LARP of a William Gibson Sprawl novel:
Right now, Dan Tan's programmers are busy reverse-engineering the safeguards of online betting houses. About $3 billion is wagered on sports every day, most of it on soccer, most of it in Asia. That's a lot of noise on the big exchanges. We can exploit the fluctuations, rig the bets in a way that won't trip the houses' alarms. And there are so many moments in a soccer game that could swing either way. All you have to do is see an Ilves tackle in the box where maybe the Viikingit forward took a dive. It happens all the time. It would happen anyway. So while you're running around the pitch in Finland, the syndicate will have computers placing high-volume max bets on whatever outcome the bosses decided on, using markets in Manila that take bets during games, timing the surges so the security bots don't spot anything suspicious. The exchanges don't care, not really. They get a cut of all the action anyway. The system is stacked so it's gamblers further down the chain who bear all the risks.
What's that — you're worried about getting caught? It won't happen. Think about the complexity of our operation. We are organized in Singapore, I flew from Budapest, the match is in Finland, we're wagering in the Philippines using masked computer clusters from Bangkok to Jakarta. Our communications are refracted across so many cell networks and satellites that they're almost impossible to unravel. The money will move electronically, incomprehensibly, through a hundred different nowheres. No legal system was set up to handle this kind of global intricacy. The number of intersecting jurisdictions alone is dizzying. Who's going to spot the crime? Small-town police in Finland? A regulator in Beijing? Each of them will only see one tiny part of it. How would they ever know to talk to each other? Dan Tan has friends in high places; extradition requests can find themselves bogged down in paperwork. Witnesses can disappear. I promise; you'll be safe. Who can prove you didn't see a penalty? We're fine.
Best part? Pro soccer is so corrupt that they don't give a damn, despite the fact that there is no game there, just a network of frauds that may exceed $1B:
Let me answer that question by referring you to the phrase that I hope will be your primary takeaway from this piece. Soccer. Is. Fucked. Europol announced the investigation Monday, leaving everyone with the impression that this was an ongoing operation designed to, you know, stop a criminal, maybe catch a bad guy or something. On Tuesday, multiple journalists reported that Europol is no longer pursuing the investigation. They've turned the information over to the dozens of prosecution services in the dozens of countries involved, which should keep things nice and streamlined. The man at the center of the whole story, the Singaporean mobster Tan Seet Eng, known as Dan Tan, has a warrant out for his arrest, but the Singaporeans won't extradite him and Interpol won't pressure them to do so.3 UEFA and FIFA talk about stamping out corruption, but, and I'll try to be precise here, FIFA rhetoric is to action what a remaindered paperback copy of Pippi in the South Seas is to the Horsehead Nebula. FIFA is eyeballs-deep in its own corruption problems, being run, as it is, by a cabal of 150-year-olds, most of them literally made out of dust, who have every incentive to worry about short-term profit over long-term change. They all have streets named after them, so how could they have a bad conscience? FIFA sees the game as a kind of Rube Goldberg device, or, better, as a crazed Jenga tower, and their job is to keep it standing as long as the money's coming in. Doesn't matter how wobbly it gets. Nobody look at the foundations.
Match-Fixing in Soccer [Brian Phillips/Grantland]
When New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz found out that Newtown victim Jack Pinto, 6, was a huge fan, he decided to dedicate Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons to the first-grader. Cruz, the father of an eleven-month-old girl, decorated his cleats and gloves with tributes to Jack, calling the boy his "hero." Normally, writing on uniforms or gear would be cause for a fine in the NFL, but Cruz -- and the rest of the Giants and the New York Jets, who had "SHES" written on their helmets (Sandy Hook Elementary School) -- won't be in trouble. (The Giants' playoff chances? Another story.) Jack's family has been in touch with Cruz since the weekend, offering any needed assistance, and he has promised to try and meet with them in person, even if just for a short time. He's also promised to give the Pinto family the cleats as a keepsake. If the final score of that game wasn't enough to make a Giants fan weep (present company included), then this story certainly is. (via TIME)
Photo credit: Victor Cruz on Twitter
Discussion with Mrs. Beschizza about Ted conjured up fond memories of Sam J. Jones's post-10 epic role as Flash Gordon in the 1980 British-American film adaptation of the classic comic strip. Yes, the one with the brilliantly bombastic Queen soundtrack. Adds Mr. Beschizza, "Flash Gordon is why America should get to make a Doctor Who movie."
Condoleezza Rice and I have very few things in common, but here is one thing we can probably break bread over without too much shouting: NFL football. Good gravy, do we both love football. (And from the looks of the jersey she's wearing, we share a predilection for wide receivers.) But even while we may differ on teams -- Rice is a Cleveland Browns fan, I bleed blue for the New York Giants -- at least we both be sure of one thing: the NFL is recognizing its lady fans more and more, like in its latest ad campaign featuring the former Secretary of State and several other notable gridiron girls. I won't say it's been impossible to find women's apparel in actual team colors (rather than pink and/or covered in glitter), because it's quite available and becoming easier to find all the time. But nothing annoys me more than the commercials that perpetuate the stereotypes of by portraying a bunch of dudes "getting ready for the game" while their hapless "football widows" go make them snacks. Thanks, but some of us female humans are actually more interested in watching that game ourselves (and eating those snacks). Like me and Condi. (Good luck with your Browns, LOL.)
So, thank you, NFL, for rolling out this new ad featuring a variety of women who love the game and are ready to wear the team colors in shirts that were made for them. As someone who likes sports and doesn't care who knows, I find this awesome.