Former Celtics FC Soccer Player Leigh Griffiths Questioned in Sports Betting Probe

Advances in technology and artificial intelligence, coupled with massive amounts of stored data, are making it easier to detect potential match-fixing and illegal betting in sports. An investigation into Scottish soccer players Leigh Griffiths and Paul McGowan highlights how improvements are being made.

Leigh Griffiths
Leigh Griffiths
Scottish soccer star Leigh Griffiths reacts on the field. He’s facing scrutiny over allegations centered on illegal sports bets. (Image: The Scotsman)

Griffiths was detained on Thursday as part of an investigation into betting in sports. Detectives raided his home in the early hours of the morning before taking him to the station for questioning. The 32-year-old striker, now with Australia’s Mandurah City, wasn’t charged with any crimes.

At the same time of his arrest, McGowan was also taken into police custody. Like Griffiths, he also walked free and is already back on the field with Dundee FC.

Questionable Bets Cause Suspicion

The investigation centers on questionable betting patterns. The police haven’t provided any specifics regarding the case, other than to explain that it potentially involves illegal bets.

The case centers on a match last year between Dundee and Heart of Midlothian F.C. McGowan and Griffiths were both with Dundee at the time, each receiving a yellow card within four minutes during that game. It isn’t clear if that might have triggered suspicions.

The clubs are assisting the investigation, as well, according to statements they released to the press. They expect the investigation to run its course and will provide any information investigators may request.

More than 10 police officers descended on Griffiths’ property on Thursday. Leading the search were three uniformed police officers and eight Criminal Investigation Division (CID) officers, according to the Daily Record.

The on-site investigation lasted approximately two and a half hours before the police packed up and left the scene. It isn’t clear from different news sources if they took any possible evidence with them.

Griffiths asserts that police only took him in for questioning and that they never technically arrested him. However, the official report the police presented acknowledged that they had arrested three men, later releasing them “without charge pending.” There is no information on the identity of the third individual.

No Bets Allowed

In most sports, leagues prohibit players and team personnel from wagering on any game in the sport. Some even prohibit all forms of sports betting. Still, there have been players, like Ivan Toney, who happily ignored the rules.

One of the most notorious rule-breakers, at least in the eyes of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the US, was Pete Rose. As a player for the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies, he set a hitting record that still stands today. Overshadowing the accomplishment is his extracurricular activity as a manager for the Reds later in his career.

MLB determined that Rose bet on his own team, which resulted in an immediate and permanent ban from the sport. It also blocked any chance that he would ever receive consideration to be a part of the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his accomplishments.

Recent changes in sports betting legislation in the US have led to calls for changes to the rules. When Ohio legalizes sports betting in January, Rose will place the first wager at the Hard Rock Cincinnati. It’s another attempt to convince the league to back down, but that isn’t likely.

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