Does Poker And Online Gambling Distract Professional Football Players?

Academic study claims players are underperforming on the field due to worries over gambling debts

Graeme Law, a PhD candidate at the University of Chester in England, made some startling claims this week after interviewing 34 current and former professional footballers across all leagues – he says the responses indicate that players are underperforming on the pitch because of worries arising from poker games and online gambling.
Reporting on the research, which has been presented to the British Sociological Association, the Telegraph newspaper notes that the revelation comes barely a day after Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis admitted 12 breaches of Football Association rules governing betting on matches.
Law says that players discussed the gambling with him and admitted that they were not always able to function at the expected levels, leading to conflicts within teams.
One Premier League player told him: "I have lost a lot and I had a stinker because it's all I thought about during the game."
Another Premier League player said of a team-mate: "On the way to the game, he lost about two grand, and he was only 18. He had a shocker in the game."
A former Championship player said: "I have seen a lot of players lose a lot of money and when they get to the game, they have a bad experience or a bad game."
In his thesis, Law observes: "Players gamble as a way of relieving the boredom on journeys to away games and after training on pre-season tours. Contrary to popular opinion, their activities are heavily regulated and constrained, so they get easily bored."
Law found that players turned to online gambling in order to keep their habit secret from their partners. "Previous gambling environments were more social and encouraged group interaction, whereas the internet now allows gambling to be done in private," he said.
One international and Premier League player told him: "I liked to bet on the bus, but it got worse when I could bet online. I was able to do it all the time with no one knowing. I lost a lot. My wife found out after a year or so and she got me help and it's under control now. It's the culture to gamble in football and it can get dangerous when it grips you."

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