Lebanese goalkeeper Hassan Bitar is reportedly under investigation for possible match-fixing after a glaring “mistake” that led to a goal and ultimately a loss.
According to Australia’s 7Sport, which is affiliated with Yahoo! Sports, the mistake was flagged by FIFA’s anti-corruption division due to a massive spike in betting during halftime.
Bitar minded the net for Lebanese top-flight club and last year’s league champions Al-Ahed in an Asian Cup group stage match against Turkmen club Altyn Astyn. The 30-year-old took a routine back-pass from defender Al Ahed Nour Mansour and as Bitar goes to collect, he lifts his leg over the ball, letting it squirt through. As Bitar makes a valiant but fruitless effort to prevent the embarrassing moment, the ball slow-rolls over the line. The goal made the game 1-0 in Altyn Astyn’s favor, and the Turkmen side won 2-0.
The heavy betting influx during halftime plummeted Altyn Astyn’s odds from 4/1 down to 1.1, flagging the AFC and FIFA.
This is a difficult situation for all involved. Professional athletes are still people, and therefore they occasionally make boneheaded plays such as this. All things considered, it’s entirely believable that Bitar made a true mistake. However, considering the suspicious betting activity, plus considering the match where the incident occurred – lower level eastern European and Asian leagues and cup matches are perfect targets for match fixers – it’s too much to let go.