ALMOST two thirds of football fans believe the sport is corrupt, with more than half believing it to be riddled with cover-ups and scandals.

According to a Populus survey commissioned by Portland, football was labelled the least trustworthy of 12 sports on issues such as match-fixing, doping, and financial corruption.

Athletics also didn’t fare well either with 80 percent of fans believing it has a major problem with performance-enhancing drugs.

Darts and golf, in contrast, were perceived to be the most honest pursuits among the 2000 people questioned and asked whether these issues would likely stop them watching their favourite sports, either live or on television.

Football scored the worst of the dozen sports included in the survey with 62% of fans believing the sport is involved in financial corruption, 56% of the opinion it is involved in cover-ups and scandal, and two in five football fans (42%) saying they would stop watching football, live or on TV, because of perceived financial corruption in the sport.

Those results have not played well with those formerly involved in running football. The former executive director of The Football Association, David Davies, said: “The days when any sport could take its supporters for granted are long since gone. If anyone believed otherwise, this timely research shows them to be very wrong.

“Football has learned that with ever greater popularity around the world has come ever greater scrutiny. And that unearthed some more than uncomfortable scandals.

“Higher quality and more transparent governance at home and abroad should play a big part in boosting confidence in the way all sports are run.”

The UK public is most likely to suspect that horseracing is involved in match fixing (49%), with half of horseracing fans (50%) saying they would give up watching races as a result. Darts topped the Integrity Index as the most trustworthy sport in the UK.

It was rated by the public as the least likely sport to be involved 
in cover-ups and scandals. 

The public also think that professional darts players are the least likely sportspeople to take performance-enhancing drugs.

Golf was also seen as trustworthy, and was considered the least likely sport to be affected by match-fixing or financial corruption.

Athletics supporters are the most cynical of all sports fans, with four in five (80%) saying that performance-enhancing drugs are a problem in the sport.

Over half (57%) said they were likely to stop watching professional athletics because of the prevalence of doping.

This follows recent comments from Usain Bolt, who urged fellow athletes to stop doping or “the sport will die”, ahead of London 2017.

Alastair Campbell, an advisor at Portland, said: “Sport is a massive part of our national life and our brand as a nation. But sport is not immune from the mistrust and cynicism which have undermined faith in most of our big institutions.”