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Looking down the rabbit hole

How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go Alice? It’s aquestion the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) needs to be askingitself.

How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go Alice? It’s a question the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) needs to be asking itself.

Over the weekend, news broke that UEFA is investigating Bulgarian referee Anton Genov for allegedly fixing a game between Canada and Macedonia.

The game, which was nothing more than a friendly, saw an unusually high amount of Euros wagered on it — specifically on the over bet of 21/2 total goals and on the number of penalties to be called.

The game ended 3-0 for Macedonia and there were four penalties called — including one very questionable call that came in the final minute of a game with no implications or other importance.

UEFA has suspended Genov and barred him from all competitions while it investigates.

Meanwhile, the response from the CSA and the Macedonians has been alarmingly predictable.

“The Canadian Soccer Association confirms that none of its players or staff were in any way associated with the alleged match fixing incident recently reported in relation to the Nov. 14, 2009, match which featured Macedonia vs. Canada. The Canadian Soccer Association has not been contacted by UEFA or FIFA in respect of this match,” CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli wrote in an email.

Montopoli sent me that email just hours after the story broke. It’s their standard PR approach but it raises questions about how the CSA could confirm anything about that game after having just learned of it.

Had it conducted an investigation already? Had it spoken to all the players? Had it checked to see if it had any new BMWs kicking around?

My guess is not. But that’s the approach most federations take when confronted with match-fixing allegations — they choose not to go down the rabbit hole for fear of what they might find.

In no way am I suggesting that Canadian players were involved. But it is the responsibility of the CSA to fully find out. It needs to do the due diligence, talk to its players and be sure.

Otherwise, years from now, we may wake up in Wonderland with Europe and wonder what happened.

– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca; ben.rycroft@metronews.ca

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