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Investigations Professor’s Best-Selling Book Inspires a Television Series
The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime by Declan Hill has been translated into more than 20 languages, and it is now motivation for a scripted drama series being created for the video streaming platform Crackle.
March 9, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Declan Hill, D.Phil., was attending a conference when he looked down to check his phone. He came across a story about a new drama series that would be based on a book about match-fixing in sports, and wondered whose work the series would be based on. Taking a closer look, he discovered it was his book that provided the motivation.
During the course of his doctoral research, Hill infiltrated a gang of Asian match fixers, hoping to explore match-fixing from an academic perspective. His book, The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, captured his experience and tells the story of what he discovered about the globalization of the gambling market and, particularly, match-fixing at the highest levels of soccer.
"You have to take a quantum leap with your imagination because the problem is so extensive," said Dr. Hill, an associate professor in the University of New Haven’s Investigations department. "This isn’t something that involves only small games. It’s a massive problem."
The Fix, a scripted drama series, is one of several television and film projects that Landmark Studio Group, an entertainment company launched by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc., is developing. Written by David Dilley and produced by Ellen Pompeo and Laura Holstein, the series will be available on the video streaming platform Crackle. Hill says the release date is to be determined.
"I want my students to see how powerful sports corruption can be."Declan Hill, D.Phil.
In his book, which has been translated into 21 languages, Dr. Hill details his involvement with the match-fixing gang as they fixed soccer matches around the world. Dr. Hill, who is in negotiations with the production team, will serve as a consultant and will spend time on the set.
"The book is my personal story, and I don’t want them to change that," he said. "Some stories couldn’t be put in the book for legal reasons, and there are some stories you just can’t make up, so it’s important to have a say."
As an investigative journalist, Dr. Hill saw a mobster he’d interviewed in the front row of a major soccer match – a position that conveyed status and exclusivity – and Dr. Hill wondered how he’d gotten there. Dr. Hill’s curiosity brought him into the massive world of sports corruption, and he is now bringing what he learned and the connections he made into the classroom, exploring topics such as organized crime, corruption, and sports gambling.
He is currently teaching special topics courses titled "US Sports Corruption" and "Sports Wagering Markets."
Dr. Hill’s connections have enabled his students to get an inside look at corruption in sports, something that, he says, continues to be a massive problem around the world.
Yuliya Stepanova, a prominent Russian runner, and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, who exposed widespread use of banned performance-enhancing drugs in Russian sports, as well as a prominent undercover match-fixing expert who previously served as a body guard for Princess Diana, have spoken to Hill’s students via Zoom.
"I want my students to see how powerful sports corruption can be," he said. "Yuliya Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov are in hiding, and they’re not much older than the students. Soft power – the power we see every day – is a significant part of the world of sports."