British soccer union CEO Gordon Taylor may be praying for a reprieve regarding questionable sports wagering habits

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the head of one of British soccer’s biggest player unions could be fighting for his job over the fact that he has built up large gambling debts from betting on soccer matches. The paper reports that Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has lost £100,000 ($155,000) while betting on soccer matches and other sporting events in recent years.

Do As I Say…

That alone would be something of a problem for Taylor, as it is certainly a large sum. But what could make it a more public embarrassment is the fact that Taylor has made plenty of public comments against gambling, in particular imploring the players in his union to stay away from wagering on soccer, whether those players are participating in a given game or not. He has proposed a zero tolerance policy on the practice, saying that the risk of players using insider information or taking steps to manipulate results for gamblers is simply too great.

“At the moment footballers can bet, so long as they don’t bet on themselves or their teams,” Taylor said in 2010, reacting to a spot-fixing scandal in the cricket world. “But in this day and age footballers must now look at zero tolerance. It’s going to be difficult because we all know there is a culture of betting in football. But the use of inside information and betting of any kind has become a very sensitive issue…we feel it’s time that the player’s union backed a zero tolerance stance.”

Despite Rules, Many Players Bet

Under current rules, the players themselves are allowed to bet on soccer, but they cannot bet on any league or competition in which they are participating or have previously played in. In recent months, there have been several betting scandals involving players: Andros Townsend was banned for four months this summer, while Cameron Jerome faced a £50,000 ($78,000) fine for repeated violations of the gambling policy. In neighboring Scotland, Ian Black was recently accused of betting against his own team in matches.

“Footballers are an easy target,” Taylor said. “They are offered big lines of credit…there is also the bigger issue on the integrity of the game and trying to make sure that players, in accordance with the rules, don’t get into any trouble by betting on games they are involved in.”

The rules that dictate what Taylor, 68, can bet on aren’t nearly as strict. However, it would still seem hypocritical to many that the head of England’s player union would be betting large sums on matches in the Premier League while helping prevent players from doing so.

Over a two-and-a-half year span, Taylor is said to have placed about £4 million ($6.2 million) in bets with betting firm Best Bet. That included some large bets on individual matches, including £15,000 ($23,000) that he lost on a 2-2 draw between England and Switzerland in June 2011. He also reportedly lost about £47,500 ($73,700) on horse racing in a single day in January. Taylor has allegedly failed to settle a £104,000 ($161,000) bill with the company.

Taylor earns over £1 million ($1.55 million) a year in his roll as the union chief.