Somewhere out there a man named Zivko "Chris" Budimir probably remembers the name of Gabe Gala more than most Toronto FC fans do. To TFC fans Gala was just another in the long line of players who came and went without making much of an impact on the club. His biggest legacy was the goal he scored against Real Madrid in a meaningless friendly that Los Galácticos. The match would end up in a 5-1 win for the Spanish giants but it was the TFC goal from Gala that ruined Budimir's day.
We are just finding out about how Gala cost Budimir roughly $19,000 thanks to CBC's Ben Rycroft. His continued explorations into match fixing in Canada turned to the humourous story of how a convicted group of match fixers based in Germany tried to fix the match between Toronto FC and Real Madrid.
The humor of the story is not just the fact that the fixers ended up losing out on a big pay day thanks to Gala or the fact that they continued to bet large sums of money on a match despite being unable to orchestrate any sort of fix but the fact that they didn't even know what Toronto club was actually involved in the friendly at first. In Ben's latest on CBC he tells the full story which is a must read for Toronto FC fans who are in need of a smile during these less than happy days around the club. Here is a sample of some of the fun you will find in the article that is about a very serious matter:
According to wiretap conversations acquired from the German police investigation, Budimir and the match fixers had originally mistaken Toronto Croatia for Toronto FC. Hilariously, they believed Toronto Croatia of the CSL was going to play Real Madrid of La Liga on Aug. 7 and were convinced this would be a great opportunity for a fix given the difference in quality.
The fact that match fixers were hoping to manipulate a game involving a MLS should serve as a wake-up call no matter how poor a job they did. There are surely more intelligent and organized groups interested in cashing in on sports betting so for the league to ignore that would be a massive mistake. There is now no deny that MLS and Toronto FC are on the radar of match fixers out there so Ben's article should also serve as a call to be vigilant.