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The Politics of Countermeasures Against Match-Fixing in Sport: A Political Sociology Approach to Policy Instruments

As match-fixing has emerged as a global problem, states and sports organisations have proposed a range of countermeasures. However, despite their neutral, technocratic appearance, these instruments produce their own political effects. Drawing from a case study of the 2011 South Korean ‘K-League’ football match-fixing scandal that resulted in a raft of countermeasures, this article examines how match-fixing countermeasures(re)organise the power relations within the sports betting industry. Using a qualitative, interpretive multi-method approach, three consequences are suggested. First, the education programme redefines sports ethics by delivering new codes of conduct that are aligned to the demands of betting. Second, regulations instituted by the K-League and the government frame the illegal activity as infringing upon the key stakeholders’ economic interests, further privileging the importance of the betting regime. Third, the sports betting monitoring system itself empowers the sole betting company as a trustworthy ‘fixer’ of the match-fixing problem through co-optation into its policy framework. Consequently, this study shows that key stakeholders manage the risk of losing legitimacy by showcasing their efforts to fight against match-fixing, while also taking advantage of the countermeasures to normalise the business of sports betting, thus furthering their own interests.