The FIFA World Cup begins in Russia on Thursday when the host nation takes on Saudi Arabia in the first match.
While everything might seem rosy up front but we can assure you there are a series of underlying cracks that many people are failing to notice.
Nobody can deny that the World Cup is a haven for professional gamblers who will be looking to make money from the month-long tournament but a couple of reports suggest that not many gamblers are keen on putting their money on the Russia national team.
According to Global Sports Integrity, gamblers are trying to avoid betting on Russia because there are serious doubts over the integrity of the team.
Mark Phillips, director at Global Sports Integrity, said: “I’m certainly worried about it,
“I know there are professional gamblers who are looking at these matches in Group A — Russia, Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — and saying we can’t bet on those games because they don’t know if they’re going to be completely straight.”
And it is not only the Russian football team who are under scrutiny as the host nation themselves have been accused of dubious votings in order to win the rights for the 2018 World Cup.
Sports administrator and FIFA whistle-blower Bonita Mersiades said: “I think Russia has been very lucky that Qatar won 2022,
“That was such an absurd decision for this tiny little state in the middle of the desert to win a World Cup tournament, that everyone ignored the fact that Russia won in two rounds of voting.
“The fact is FIFA did not make those decisions as to who would be the host of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups based on the evidence, based on the merits of the case, in either case.”
The Russian players’ integrities are at question here which should not come as a huge surprise especially after a couple of Russia athletes were banned from competing under the nation’s flag in last year’s Winter Olympics because of systematic breaches of anti-doping rules.
The report also claims that there’s at least one player in the country’s World Cup football squad who has had a positive doping test covered up.
So clearly when the fans enjoy the games and cheer for their teams they should keep in mind that everything that they see might not be a fair contest.