London, August 14: The number of football matches with suspicious betting patterns in world football decreased in 2018, a report published by STATS Perform has found.
The 2019 Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football investigation shows 377 matches were identified as having suspicious betting patterns, compared to 397 in 2017.
The drop comes despite an increase in the number of games analysed, with 62,250 looked at in 2018 compared to 54,757 the year before.
Europe again saw the largest number of suspicious matches - 227 in 2018. There were 69 in Asia, 24 in South America, five in Africa, four in North America and one in Oceania.
A further 47 international matches were identified.
Despite the positive drop in the overall number of suspicious matches, there were two in the 'Tier One' bracket, which represents high maximum stakes per bet. There were none in 2017.
Furthermore, 10 of the top 20 leagues with the highest number of suspicious matches are at the highest level of club football in their country. Six of these are in Europe, and four in Asia.
In one top division in Eastern Europe, 16 matches with unusual betting patterns were observed - almost seven per cent of all games played.
Of all suspicious matches logged, nearly 40 per cent took place in the final quarter of the season, compared to 26 per cent in quarter three and 24 in quarter two.
The report also shows no change from 2017 to 2018 in the number of suspicious matches (22) identified in an unnamed European domestic youth league. However, one team in this league has featured in 13 suspicious matches over the past two years, which is the highest number of any club in the world.
A senior men's team was involved in five of 16 suspicious matches in international football, representing half of all their fixtures in 2018. In the previous year, the same team was not involved in any matches featured in the report.
The report also explains how one European lower league has seen a marked decrease in suspicious betting patterns after law enforcement agencies took action to disrupt "what is believed to be an organised, cross-border match-fixing operation".
"This positive outcome is a testament to the appetite shown to confront the issue," the report adds.
"It further demonstrates how betting market analysis can aid investigations, as well as how sports' governing bodies and law enforcement agencies can work together to deliver successful results."
In women's football, six of 2,328 matches were identified as having suspicious betting patterns - an overall percentage of 0.26, compared to 0.6 across both the men's and women's game.
"These figures suggest that similar challenges are faced by men's and women's football," the report says.
The report was compiled by STATS Perform, Starlizard Integrity Services and TXODDS.