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Has the ugly side of the beautiful game reached our shores?

UEFA boss Michel Platini has described it as the greatest single threat to the global game and the spectre of match-fixing continues to haunt the Irish game.

Suspicion, doubt and strange betting patterns have haunted the Airtricity League in recent times and the suspension of a League of Ireland player is a disturbing development.

Perception is reality and if football can’t stand over the validity of its results it presents a very precarious scenario for the FAI and associations worldwide.

“If tomorrow we’ll see a game and we already know the result, football is dead,” Platini said.

Fans are already becoming disillusioned with the vast sums of money bandied around by the biggest clubs in Europe to garner success.

Europol announced in February how it suspected that 380 games had been tampered, the games were held mostly in Turkey and Switzerland and Germany it seems, and that the origin of the corruption is in the vast Far Eastern betting market, which 14 years ago provoked the floodlighting scam at Selhurst Park that left four plotters in British prisons.

Ireland is not immune to this suspicion, UEFA were informed by the Airtricity League last May of a game which had attracted some irregular betting patterns.

The strange betting trends surrounded the likelihood that a penalty would be awarded during the game and the League’s director Fran Gavin informed both sets of players prior to the game as to the situation.

There have been other instances but it at least proves that bookmakers and footballing authorities are on the case.

With FIFA dogged by corruption scandals, the game blighted racist chanting from some fans and taunts from some players and football losing credibility for simulation and ill-discipline, the game is facing its most testing period ever.

Online Editors