Aussie sport shows off its ugly underbelly

ORGANISED crime links? Drugs in sport? If you didn’t know any better last week, you would have thought you were watching re-runs of Underbelly and the Lance Armstrong/Oprah interview.

Unfortunately what we were watching was a press conference that outlined match-fixing, criminal links and drugs are widespread in Australian professional sport.

Reports since then have suggested that AFL (in particular, Essendon) players and NRL clubs/players have been the worst offenders but we’d be extremely naive to think that the problems are restricted to those two sports.

One club that cannot be accused of using performance enhancing drugs is the Parramatta Eels – and if in the unlikely case it turns out they have used them, they should insist on a refund.

In all seriousness, though, it doesn’t look good and who knows what the fallout will be.

The announcement came the same week that Europol revealed up to 700 soccer matches worldwide were suspected of match-fixing. One case – a 2009 Champions League game between Liverpool and Hungarian side Debrecen – caught my eye. 

The Debrecen goalkeeper was allegedly paid to let in three goals. Despite their best efforts, Liverpool won 1-nil.


The GWS Giants can now sigh in collective relief – they are no longer the biggest joke in Australian sport.

That title, as of last Friday night, has now been taken over by the boxing career (if you can call it that) of the one and only Sonny Bill Williams.

SBW beat South African Francois Botha by a unanimous points decision in the WBA international heavyweight title fight. All sounds simple enough except for the fact that the bout was stopped after only 10 rounds and WBA sanctioned title fights are supposed to go for 12 rounds!

SBW’s camp says the 10 rounds were agreed to beforehand and, of course, Botha disagreed, saying his preparations were based on 12 rounds.

I didn’t see the whole fight, but from what I saw Botha was well on top when the final bell rang and those who know better than I do insist Sonny Bill would’ve been knocked out had it gone 12 rounds.

It really is sad to see professional boxing in its current state and when you consider that Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson all held WBA heavyweight titles in their time, it’s an embarrassment that blokes like Sonny Bill are even allowed to compete for so-called titles. 

The fight was so farcical, in fact, that several major betting agencies returned all money on Botha.


Several weeks ago in my year in review edition of Back Chat, I spoke of young Socceroo Tom Rogic as one to watch in 2013.

Well, he got off to a pretty good start on the weekend. Rogic, 20, made his first-team debut for new club Glasgow Celtic in the team’s 3-1 win over Inverness CT on Saturday night.

The Canberra-born star set up Celtic’s first goal with a piece of individual brilliance and was an all-round standout in midfield. 

Rogic is a special player and is unlike any other we have going around at the moment, and his performance on the weekend proved why several English Premier League clubs were also chasing his services during the January transfer window.

His obvious talents have made him an instant fans’ favourite and that love even stretched to Thailand last week, when a big group of Thai school children and teachers dressed up in Celtic gear and sang “do the Kangaroo hop, Tom”.

Needless to say, the video has become very popular on YouTube! 

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