Football must cure its gambling disease

FORMER Hammers star Mark Ward believes that football has to do something about the excesses and addictions some modern day players have with gambling. Ward, who served four years of an eight-year sentence for a drug offence and is fresh out of prison, bel

FORMER Hammers star Mark Ward believes that football has to do something about the excesses and addictions some modern day players have with gambling.

Ward, who served four years of an eight-year sentence for a drug offence and is fresh out of prison, believes that the money that is in the game is leading to widespread problems with betting.

Another former Hammer in Matty Etherington, checked into a clinic in an attempt to cure his gambling addiction, and was said to owe hundreds of thousands of pounds to bookmakers at one stage.

And Ward believes that he is not an isolated case.


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"There is a disease in football called gambling," he said. "It is so accessible now to put your money on a horse.

"You have always been able to phone the bookie, but now you can go on to a computer, put so much money into an account and at a click of a button, you can have 10 or 20 grand on a horse."

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In Ward's day, there was a drinking culture at most clubs as well as a gambling culture, but he believes that it is nowhere near as serious as it is for the high earners in today's Premier League.

"It is worrying," he said. "Obviously I have gambled, as so many other footballers have.

"I've been to the races, done my bets every day - the first thing we saw in the dressing room at West Ham was a copy of the Sporting Life newspaper to look at the form.

"I just think that you get a buzz out of football and when you are not playing it, what do you turn to?

"People say footballers will get into drugs, they won't. Obviously I did, but it was because I was skint. But the gambling is something I think that has to be looked at it in the game.

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