HarperCollins Publishers will publish “The Big Fix” in May 2014, two years after Forrest’s “ESPN The Magazine” piece “All The World Is Staged” that formed the book’s basis. The publisher’s description of “Fix”: “A revelatory true-to-life crime thriller and expose involving greed, corruption, an Asian crime syndicate and the fixing of international soccer matches at the highest levels, including the UEFA Champions League and the World Cup. Brett Forrest takes us inside the underworld of one of organized crime’s most profitable businesses — a $1 trillion annual international betting market, of which soccer comprises 70 percent. Filled with headline-making revelations, ‘The Big Fix’ is must reading for soccer fans and true crime aficionados.”
Covering the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, ESPN writer Brett Forrest is back in Russia where he could have won a gold medal for chutzpah a decade ago. In 2003, he left New York to visit friends in Moscow – and stayed for five years.
“It wasn’t easy, man, but it’s how I made my living,” Forrest said of taking his freelance writing trade abroad after graduating from Michigan, moving up the publishing ranks as a magazine fact checker, writer and editor, and authoring a book on the short-lived XFL. “American readers want to read American stuff, and in the United States you can pick up little stories – celebrity, sports, politics. But when you do foreign stories for magazines, they have to be big, juicy topics, and those are the toughest stories to sell.”
Forrest’s stories during the Winter Olympics will be in the form of non-competition “Cultural Dispatches” for ESPN.com. Previously, he successfully sold stories to Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Playboy and Sports Illustrated.
What are some of Forrest’s memories of his Russian residence?
“It was a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the people were still figuring out what they wanted to be,” he said. “There were a million opportunities in industry, and people were getting used to their new freedoms.”
Forrest was “surprised” Sochi was awarded these Olympics in 2007.
“Not shocked, because Sochi was a finalist, but it did come out of left field,” Forrest said. “I didn’t think Sochi was ready for something like this. From my experience, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] liked reliable places in reliable countries, so Sochi was a risk for them. Russia had the Olympics before, but that was Moscow, one of the biggest cities in the world.”
Forrest admitted to some fears in returning to his mid-2000’s home amidst today’s political climate.
“You want to be careful of the choices you make and where you go, but that’s the nature of terrorism – its randomness,” Forrest said. “It’s an issue you have to deal with today for any big international event – you see cops everywhere. I was on one of the main highways and there were cops every 50 yards – just standing along the highway like they would for a presidential motorcade. . . Hopefully a lot of the negative talk will subside and the focus will be on why we love the Games – the competition and the human spirit.”