In organized sports, match fixing or game fixing occurs when a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as race fixing. Games that are deliberately lost are sometimes called thrown games. When a team intentionally loses a game to obtain a perceived future competitive advantage rather than gamblers being involved, the team is often said to have tanked the game instead of having thrown it.
In pool hustling, tanking is known as dumping. Thrown games, when motivated by gambling, require contacts (and normally money transfers) between gamblers, players, team officials, and/or referees. These contacts and transfer can sometimes be found, and lead to prosecution, by law or by the sports league(s). In contrast, tanking is internal to the team and very hard to prove. Often, substitutions made by the coach designed to deliberately increase the team's chances of losing (frequently by having
one or more key players sit out, often using minimal or phantom injuries as a public excuse for doing this), rather than ordering the players actually on the field to intentionally underperform, were cited as the main factor in cases where tanking has been alleged.
Match fixing is often motivated by agreements with bookmaking syndicates. But even if there is no bookmaking syndicates involved, sometimes a team may deliberately lose to gain some perceived future advantage. This section explores many possible motivations for not playing as hard as possible to win.
In addition to the match fixing that is committed by players, coaches and/or team officials, it is not unheard of to have results manipulated by corrupt referees. Since 2004, separate scandals have erupted in prominent sports leagues in Portugal, Germany (Bundesliga scandal), Brazil (Brazilian football match-fixing scandal) and the United States,
all of which concerned referees who fixed matches for gamblers. Many sports writers have speculated that in leagues with high player salaries, it is far more likely for a referee to become corrupt since their pay in such competitions is usually much less than that of the players.
Match fixing does not necessarily involve deliberately losing a match. Occasionally, teams have been accused of deliberately playing to a draw (or a fixed score) where this ensures some mutual benefit (e.g. both teams advancing to the next stage of a competition.) For example, in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, West Germany played Austria in the last match of group B. A West German victory by 1 or 2 goals would result in both teams advancing; any less and Germany was out;
any more and Austria was out (and replaced by Algeria, who had just beaten West Germany). West Germany attacked hard and scored after 10 minutes. Afterwards, the players then proceeded to just kick the ball around aimlessly for the remainder of the match. Algerian supporters were so angered that they waved banknotes at the players, while a German fan burned his German flag in disgust. By the second half, the ARD commentator Eberhard Stanjek refused any further comment on the game,
while the Austrian television commentator Robert Seeger advised viewers to switch off their sets. As a result, FIFA changed its tournament scheduling for subsequent World Cups so that the final pair of matches in each four team group are played simultaneously.