Journalistic integrity and the English press have at times proven infrequent bedfellows, and the recent excitement over the possibility a Champions League game involving Liverpool was fixed has only served to re-confirm this for the nth time.
Reports suggesting goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic received bribes to fix the outcome a group stage match between Liverpool and Debrecen back in 2009 may have created a brief stir of excitement, but it has since become clear no story actually exists.
For one thing, even if accusations against Poleksic were true, Liverpool appear to have received no benefit. According to the Europol report released yesterday, the intention of match-fixers was to ensure at least a two goal margin of victory for the favourites.
Instead, on the night in question Poleksic let in just one goal while making six saves. In fact, the favoured English side's only marker came when Dirk Kuyt buried a rebound from a saved Fernando Torres effort.
Further, accusations Poleksic took bribes to fix the outcome of the 2009 match first came to light three years ago when UEFA handed the goalkeeper a two year ban for failing to properly report he had been approached by people seeking to fix matches against Liverpool and Fiorentina in the Champions League.
"In the view of the Uefa Disciplinary Committee," read the original UEFA statement, "Vukasin Poleksic failed to comply with his duties when he did not report to Debrecen that before two Champions League matches unknown people tried to persuade him to influence the result."
"The investigation revealed that Poleksic rejected the requests. Furthermore, the probe found that the matches were not influenced by anything connected with the bribery.
"But the player committed an error by failing to inform the authorities immediately, therefore he was punished for not meeting the reporting requirement."
It all adds up to a non-story—or at least it should. An opposition goalkeeper was approached to fix a match. He either turned down the approach or did a terrible job of delivering what the match-fixers hoped for. And either way Liverpool had no knowledge of it.
Moreover, UEFA already investigated and passed ruling on the matter in 2010. In the end, the only real story to be found is that just about every English media outlet instinctively seized on the chance to cram "Liverpool" and "match fixing" into the same headline regardless of whether a legitimate story existed. Same as it ever was.