ISL: Sportradar is out to detect suspicious activities

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INR 11,52,42,40,00,00,000/-

What is that number? That is an amount that equates to almost 1.3 trillion Euros if that makes more sense. That is also the estimated amount of money involved in sports betting around the globe. 

When there is a lot of money at stake, some people try to bend the rules in order to make more money. In sports, they try to force a change in the events and influence what happens in a game. This is not only illegal but completely destroys the industry. But there is a way to find out wrongdoings and that is where an entity likes Sportradar could make a difference. 

The ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) recently announced a multi-year extension to its partnership with Sportradar, which, as it states, is the world’s leading provider of sports integrity solutions and sports data products. They have not only been working with the ISL since 2016 but also offer similar services for Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA globally and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pro Kabaddi League in India.

What is it that they do? 

The integrity services wing of Sportradar is not just about the detection of match-fixing. "We work in a lot of areas," Tan You Chen, Senior Manager, Sportradar Integrity Partnerships (Asia), told Goal

"We monitor suspicious movements, educate for prevention. We educate players and officials on the importance of integrity. We do intelligence investigation when there is suspicious activity. We also work with federation partners to review their strategy and policies. We advise on their rules and regulations and point out loopholes and areas that need to be strengthened."


How do they do it? 

They use computer intelligence named Fraud Detection System which helps track movements of bookmakers. They also have a team of more than 100 people known as integrity analysts who try to find out what caused the suspicious activity in the market and find a sporting explanation for the change. They review movements in the market and watch games, making it a 24 x 7 operation that requires teams all over the world to cover different timezones. 

Tan said, "Our partnership with ISL includes the monitoring of all the ISL matches. They can also come to us if they have a suspicion and we can help them. It is similar to our partnership with FIFA. For ISL, we need to have people who understand the local market and what is happening on the ground." 

Sportradar was recently in the news for red-flagging six matches in the Goa Professional League. In order to understand how the flagging process happens, it is important to understand the two types of betting they monitor - pre-match and live. 

For pre-match betting, the detection system looks out for a margin of change. For example. before the game, if the odds for a team's win change from 1-8 to 1-2 within a short time, the system throws an alert. 

For live betting, the system uses data from the past to calculate odds at specific points in the game. For example, if the home team is winning a game by two goals in the 80th minute, the odds to win for the away team will be calculated to be high. Then if there is a drop in the figure, there is a trigger and in both types of cases, the analysts will try to find possible explanations for the deviation. 

"The system has two levels of alerts - Level 1 and 2 (Severe). We cant immediately conclude it is fixed. Our team of analysts try to explain it but when they cannot find a possible explanation, we flag it and escalate it. We prepare a report and alert our partners. A report is sent in 72 hours," Tan explained. 

Their procedure ends when ISL receives the report. It is then up to the league to either act on it or decide on a plan of action like getting a second opinion. If the case ends up in court, Sportradar will work with law enforcement agencies and submit the required documents in court.

Even when all this happens, the team of analysts will have moved on to checking the next trigger. And it continues.