Match fixing in sport: a top priority and ongoing challenge for sports governing bodies

by Prof. Dr. Ian Blackshaw[2]

 

Introductory remarks

Sport is all about fair play – or, at least, it should be! Competition is keen in all sports, but it should always be conducted on, to use the standard cliché, “a level playing field”. It is not a matter of winning at all costs and by all means – fair or foul. It is all about “playing the game”.[3] Or as the Olympic Creed puts it: it is not the winning but the taking part that counts in sport.

But with so much money sloshing around in sport nowadays[4], it is not surprising that sport has become a victim of corruption in various forms[5] – not least, in relation to match fixing and sports betting, the latter which is as old as the hills and needs to be regulated.[6] Indeed, betting and sport have been – to some extent – uneasy bedfellows probably since the dawn of time: for example, lottery games were originally played in China some three thousand years ago! Not only is it enjoyable to watch a sporting event, but added excitement and interest come from also being able to bet on the outcome of it. In fact, horseracing depends upon betting for its very survival as a sport. But, of course, it should all be fair and above board and no one should gain an unfair advantage over others betting on the same sporting events! In fact, the International Olympic Committee now requires all athletes participating in the Summer and Winter Games to sign a declaration that they will not be involved in betting.

Match fixing may be defined as the deliberate act of losing sports matches, or playing them in such a way as to achieve a pre-determined outcome or result, by illegally manipulating the outcome or result for financial gain or some other unfair sporting benefit.

As Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Sport, puts it:

Match-fixing is a complex problem with many sides to it. But one very important element that the European Commission focuses on in our efforts to tackle match-fixing is prevention. In this respect, educational programmes and awareness raising campaigns can have a significant impact by reaching those most at risk of being approached to fix matches – the athletes themselves.”[7]

Match fixing, sadly, affects many sports in many different ways, but, within the confines of this article, we will concentrate on two popular global sports: cricket and football, which have fallen prey to the match fixers and other cheats who are not prepared to play fair and according to the rules; and we will include two glaring examples from each sport.

 

“Match fixing” in cricket

Cricket is not immune from corruption[8] and particular mention may be made, for example, of the recent scandal of “spot fixing” (a species of match fixing) in cricket[9] involving the delivery of “no balls” at timed intervals by certain players in the Pakistani national cricket team during the fourth test match against England at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, the ancestral home of cricket, in the summer of 2010, in which, it was alleged and subsequently proved in criminal proceedings, that they deliberately bowled “no balls” at predetermined points in an over, as pre-arranged and agreed with a certain bookmaker, who would take bets on when “no balls” would be bowled during the match.[10] The players concerned have received substantial bans imposed by the International Cricket Council, the world governing body of cricket, and have also, along with the “fixer” involved in this scam, Mazhar Majeed, a businessman based in Croydon, South London, been sentenced to terms of imprisonment by a criminal court (Southwark Crown Court) following criminal prosecutions in England. Salman Butt received 30 months, Mohammad Asif received 12 months and Mohammad Amir 6 months. The “fixer”, Mazhar Majeed, received 2 years and 8 months, having been quoted, following an undercover investigation carried out by the UK News of the World newspaper, as saying that it would cost £ 400,000 to fix the result of a “Twenty20” match, £ 450,000 for a one-day international and £ 1,000,000 to fix a test match. High stakes indeed! Mr Justice Cooke, the trial judge, said that custodial sentences were needed in the case “to mark the nature of the crimes and to deter any other cricketer, agent or anyone else who considers corrupt activity of this kind”.

So, what are the international and national cricketing sports governing bodies doing about match fixing in its various pernicious forms?

As long ago as 2000, the International Cricket Council (ICC) formed the Anti-Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU), which has actively tried to combat and police any form of corruption within the game of cricket. It is of interest that there were previous incidents that took the game by surprise (as will be referred to below), but nothing quite as shocking and as spectacular as the Butt et al scandal.

The ACSU has very firm objectives in combating corruption: for instance, art. 2.1.1 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code condemns the:

fixing or contriving in any way or otherwise influencing improperly, or being a party to any effort to fix or contrive in any way or otherwise influence improperly, the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any International Match or ICC Event”.

The ACSU had also previously released reports relating to the late South African cricket captain, Hansie Cronje, who was responsible for the shamed test match fixing scandal, back in 2000. Indeed, the report prepared by Sir Paul Condon, a former London Metropolitan Police commissioner, stated:

I believe the blatant cases and excesses of cricket corruption have been stopped. I know from the work of the ACSU that most of the preliminary approaches to players, umpires, grounds men and others, to sound out their willingness to be drawn into corruption, have stopped. What is left is a small core of players and others who continue to manipulate the results of matches or occurrences within matches for betting purposes. They may be doing so out of greed, arrogance or because they are not being allowed to cease. Some may fear their previous corruption will be exposed if they try to stop and some may fear threats of violence if they stop. It will take some time before those who have developed a corrupt lifestyle within cricket have sufficient fear of exposure and punishment to stop.”

Fine words, but what action has been taken? The warning signs were present back in 2000 that the game of cricket was being infected with corruption from the source. It is interesting note that Sir Paul Condon went on to note:

From the late 1970s onwards a more insidious and corrosive form of fixing took hold in the game. This involved a player or players under-performing so that the result of a match or occurrences and events within a match were determined and fixed in advance.”

This kind of cheating, which runs counter to the uncertainty of outcome of sporting competition, which is the very nature and attractive aspect of sport and sporting endeavour, featured in the 2010 Pakistan cricketing scandal.

More action has been taken in cleaning up cricket as far as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is concerned, which bodes well for the future and survival of the game of cricket. The ECB’s ACCESS Group helps combat corruption in conjunction with the ECB’s own anti-corruption code of conduct being applied. The ECB has a transparent nature of operating which can only serve the cricketing world, including its fans and followers, positively and well.

Take, for example, the recent case of corruption involving the first English cricketer to be involved in corruption in the English County Cricket League, namely Mervyn Westfield, the fast bowler, who formerly played for Essex. He pleaded guilty to “spot fixing” involving a county match and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment in April 2012. Chris Watts, the head of the ECB anti-corruption unit has commented that it was “naïve” to think that county cricket had not been affected by corruption in view of the Pakistani scandal that had previously taken place.

Although many sports fans would agree that it is necessary to make an example of high profile sportsmen and women who engage in match fixing by imposing swingeing sporting and criminal sanctions on them, in order to serve as a real deterrent to others who may be tempted by the offers of large sums of money to throw games, one should also spare a thought for the novel practical suggestions made by Nasser Hussein, the former Essex and England test cricket captain, for using cheats to promote a cleaner game as follows:

“[The ECB should] use him [Westfield], take him around to counties, do a video with him […] use him as an example for future generations of cricketers […] instead of just parking him away somewhere to be forgotten, try to use the lad to make sure future generations don’t make the same mistakes he has made.

However, in an extensive article by Professor Steve Cornelius of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on match fixing in cricket, entitled, “Cricket’s Underworld: Fighting Illegal Gambling and Match-fixing”[11], he is rather sanguine about the efforts of the cricketing authorities to tackle the problem and reaches the following conclusions:

“[…] if one considers the bigger picture and tie up the various loose ends, the facts speak for themselves. They reveal a world in which there are never more than two degrees of separation between facilities owners, gambling syndicates, bookmakers, organised crime, television networks and cricket. So I would not expect the ICC to pay more than lip service to allegations of match-fixing in cricket. Neither would I expect the ICC to act unless their hand is forced when the media or police reveal their investigations. Again, I would not expect the ACSU to be more than a public relations stunt. After all, it may not be up to the ICC to make the decisions. However, I wait to be pleasantly surprised in the interests of safeguarding and upholding the integrity of sport in general and of cricket in particular!

Be that as it may, the fight against match fixing in cricket will – or, at least, should – continue in one form or another!

 

Illegal match fixing in football

But, sadly, cricket is not the only sport to fall foul of corrupt practices, many of which are related to sports betting and match fixing. Football – the world’s favourite sport and the most lucrative one – is not immune either from those who wish to make a fast buck unfairly and at the expense of the fans. The situation is somewhat muddied by the fact that betting companies are now sponsoring football teams (for example, Real Madrid).[12] In fact, in the view of several commentators, football in general is riddled with corruption, not only in relation to the game itself, but also in relation to the administration of the sport. For example, recently there have been scandals regarding the allocation and distribution of tickets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, as well as corruption in the form of the sale of voting rights for the hosting of the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. This latest scandal led to the banning of two members of the FIFA Executive Committee (see below).

As a result, and certainly with his eye on reelection on 1 June 2011 as the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter announced on 2 Januaryp, 2011 that he intended to set up “an anti-corruption committee to police world football’s governing body”.

This development followed closely on the heels of the corruption allegations, which overshadowed the bidding and voting process for the awarding of the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, referred to above, which led, in the event, to bans being imposed on two members of the FIFA Executive Committee, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii.[13]

 

According to Sepp Blatter:

This committee will strengthen our credibility and give us a new image in terms of transparency.”

And he gave the following personal pledge:

I will take care of it personally, to ensure there is no corruption at FIFA.”

The new committee will consist of between seven and nine members, who will be drawn not only from sport, but also from politics, finance, business and culture. This is indeed good news. But, of course, the value of any body depends upon its members and it will be interesting to see who is, in fact, appointed – hopefully not “the usual suspects”! The issue here, however, is well summed up in the well-known Latin tag coined by the Roman poet Juvenal: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” In other words, “Who will guard the guardians themselves?[14]

Reference is made to the agreement signed on 9 May 2011 between FIFA and INTERPOL to kick corruption out of football, which provides a useful working example of collaboration at its best. In a $ 20,000,000 ten-year project, both entities joined forces in order to rid the beautiful game from match fixing. Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, commented on the scourge of match fixing affecting sport in general and football in particular in the following terms:

Match-fixing shakes the very foundations of sport, namely fair play, respect and discipline. That’s why FIFA employs a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any infringement of these values.”

FIFA recognised that it could not kick out of football corruption in its various forms, including match fixing, by itself and needed to work with outside bodies and agencies. Hence, the agreement with INTERPOL.

Education is also the name of the game, and, in fact, INTERPOL held a Global Academic Experts Meeting for Integrity in Sport in Singapore at the end of November 2012. The aim of this meeting was to bring together international experts to identify ways and means in which academia could assist the INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Unit in developing and implementing educational lines of study and training modules.

Not to be outdone by the measures taken by FIFA to kick corruption out of football, Michel Platini, who was reelected president of UEFA for a further term of four years at the UEFA congress held in Paris on 22 March 2011, has publicly acknowledged that corruption is also a problem at the European level of football, as well as the global level. He has, therefore, made the tackling of corruption one of his priorities during his second term of office in order, as he says, “to protect football’s essential values”.

With corruption linked to betting activities considered as a considerable threat to football’s soul and integrity, Platini has also called for the civil/criminal authorities’ help in combating this growing phenomenon:

 

We have our suspicions but we will give them to the justice authorities, because we are not policemen ourselves.

This, of course, is one of the problems of football authorities trying to combat corruption; they have to rely on outside agencies of the country/state in which corruption cases arise and come to light. They cannot do it by themselves!

Platini has also appealed for help from the players themselves, because, as he remarked:

“[…] the players are the protectors of the game. It is they who play football, and it is they who should eventually inform us if people approach them to try and corrupt them. There is zero tolerance. The day that they are caught – players, referees, coaches, officials – they will be out of the game forever.”

As to Platini’s second term of office and what it will bring to the game, he had this to say:

How do I see my second term? In football, with its infinite history, there are always things that come along. We have 53 countries with their very different characteristics, mentalities and football. I try to help people to defend their football. My role is to protect the game and develop the national associations’ football – so that children will continue to play football in the future.”

Not a bad sporting aim, but one that will, I am sure, be very hard to achieve in practice.

Take, for example, a recent glaring case of match fixing on a big scale involving three of the top Turkish Football Clubs.[15]

Herewith a summary of the sanctions handed down in the criminal proceedings in this case, which was decided on 2 July 2012, as follows:

 

16. Istanbul Agir Ceza Mahkemesi / 16th Istanbul High Criminal Court

Decision no: 2012 /71

Date: 2 July 2012

Three out of four[16] major sports clubs taking part in the Turkish Football League during the 2010-2011 season, namely Trabzonspor SK, Besiktas JK and Fenerbahce SK, were involved in this corruption affair, which involved match-fixing and incentive premium initiatives. Out of seventeen games that took place during the second-half of this season, thirteen were proven to be corrupted. It is important to underline that the decision concerned not only these major clubs but also other small clubs with a total number of 93 defendants.

There is a significant amount of telephone conversations of the parties involved used as evidence. However, the telephone records are not the only evidence. The police have conducted a meticulous investigation over a long period of time.

The decision contains 739 pages consisting mostly of the detailed telephone conversations of the parties and the collected police evidence. The records demonstrate clearly the illegal activities of the parties involved.

Only the sanctions handed down to some of the defendants will be summarised.

 

Trabzonspor SK

The Court held that there was no convincing evidence against Sadri Sener and Nevzat Sakar.[17] Therefore, Trabzonspor representatives were acquitted and all doubt about Trabzonspor’s participation in corruption activities was eliminated.

 

Besiktas JK

As regards Besiktas JK, the winner of the Ziraat Turkish Cup during the 2010-2011 season, it has been proven that Tayfur Havutcu[18], the trainer of the club at the date, offered money and transfers at the end of the season to two footballers[19] of the rival club[20] during the final of the Ziraat Turkish Cup. All the individuals that took part in the process were found guilty by the Court.

Tayfur Havutcu was banned from exercising any activity involving direction or supervision of a sports club for life and to attend the sports events/training sessions taking place in a stadium for a year. Ibrahim Akin was sentenced with prison, a fine and was also banned from exercising any activity involving direction or supervision of a sports club for life and to attend the sports events/training sessions taking place in a stadium for a year. Iskender Alin received the same sanctions as Ibrahim Akin.

 

Fenerbahce SK

Regarding this sports club, football league champion of the 2010-2011 season, the extent of involvement in the corruption was revealed to be significantly important. The Court held that match-fixing and offers of incentive premiums have been made during thirteen games – out of seventeen games in total – of the season. Seven of the games played by Fenerbahce were affected, namely Fenerbahce – Kasimpasa (26-02-2011), Genclerbirligi – Fenerbahce (07-03-2011), Eskisehirspor – Fenerbahce (09-04-2011), Fenerbahce – IBB Spor (01-05-2011), Karabükspor – Fenerbahce (08-05-2011), Fenerbahce – Ankaragücü (15-05-2011) and Sivasspor – Fenerbahce (22-05-2011). Incentive premiums were also offered by the criminal organization, that the Court found to exist and led by Aziz Yildirim (see below), to the rivals of Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, the closest teams to the championship. Six of the games were thereby affected, namely Manisaspor – Trabzonspor (21-02-2011), Bursaspor – IBB Spor (06-03-2011), Genclerbirligi – Trabzonspor (20-03-2011), Trabzonspor – Bursaspor (17-04-2011), Eskisehirspor – Trabzonspor (22-04-2011) and Trabzonspor – IBB Spor (15-05-2011). Concerning the four remaining games, there was not enough evidence to establish match-fixing and/or incentive premium activities.

Aziz Yildirim, the president of Fenerbahce since 1998, certainly aimed to keep his position that gave him important privileges. In accordance with that intention, he promised three championships in a row at the beginning of the season 2010-2011. As Fenerbahce obtained its last championship in the 2006-2007 season, discontent within the club and among supporters was growing day by day and threatening thereby the continuity of his presidency. Hence, the importance for him to keep the promise he made at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season.

As a result of its championship, Fenerbahce obtained, in addition to the prize money allocated by the TFF, 18 million Turkish liras (TL)[21] as champion’s share; 21 million TL[22] in accordance with the results obtained within the season (26 victories, 4 draws); 15 million TL[23] as championship prize; and 16 million TL[24] for its entitlement to participate directly in the Champions League. Moreover, the club was also entitled to the biggest share of the broadcasting income. In Turkey, the income deriving from broadcasting rights is distributed according to league position. The top three clubs are entitled to 40% of the income, whilst the other clubs share the remaining 60%. Consequently, the sum accorded to Fenerbahce, precisely 64.1 million TL[25], was considerably superior to the amounts obtained by the other clubs. For example, Trabzonspor, which completed the league in second position, was granted 49.875 million TL[26].

Operations were led by, amongst others, Aziz Yildirim, the president of Fenerbahce, Ilhan Eksioglu and Sekip Mosturoglu, board members of the club.

The Court decided that Aziz Yildirim was found guilty of being the leader of a criminal organisation, as well as incentive premiums and corruption activities within football. He was sentenced with prison and a fine. He was also banned from exercising any activity involving the direction or supervision of a sports club for life and to attend the sports events/training sessions taking place in a stadium for a year. Sekip Mosturoglu and Ilhan Eksioglu were found guilty of participating in the activities of the criminal organisation led by Aziz Yildirim, as well as incentive premiums and corruption activities. They were also sanctioned with prison, a fine, a ban from exercising any activity involving the direction or supervision of a sports club for life and to attend the sports events/training sessions taking place in a stadium for a year.

 

EUROPOL investigation into match fixing in football

On 4 February 2013, at a news conference held in The Hague, EUROPOL, the European Union’s Law Enforcement Agency, revealed the results of an eighteen months’ investigation into match fixing in football in Europe and beyond, which do not make at all good reading for the game and the so-called “football family” around the world.

A Champions League tie played in England is one of 380 matches across Europe that investigators say was fixed, but without naming names. This is a blow to England, the home of football, during this year’s 150 years’ celebrations of the founding of the English Football Association.

EUROPOL said that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate, based in Asia that was coordinating the match fixing, with around 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals under suspicion.

EUROPOL added that suspected matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers; two Champions League ties; and several top football matches in European leagues. Furthermore, criminals bet € 16 million on rigged matches and made € 8 million in profits. Payments of € 2 million are thought, by the investigators, to have been paid to those involved, with the biggest payment to an individual amounting to € 140,000.

EUROPOL believe that a crime syndicate, based in Asia, has been liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe and also that match fixing has taken place in 15 countries and 50 people, so far, have been arrested. EUROPOL fears that this is “the tip of the iceberg”.

Rob Wainwright, the director of EUROPOL, said:

It is clear to us this is the biggest ever investigation into suspected match fixing in Europe.”

And added:

This has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.”

It will be interesting to see how this major investigation into match fixing in football unfolds and what prosecutions and, indeed, convictions follow from it, as well as what action FIFA and UEFA will take as a result of it!

 

Other developments at the European level

Details of recent initiatives against match-fixing at the European level by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and others, as well as by the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) are set out in Press Releases of 23 and 28 May 2013 respectively, which are reproduced in appendices I and II of this article. They make interesting reading!

 

Match fixing in F1?

There have also been allegations over the years of match fixing in Formula One motorsport, whereby one member of a team allows a fellow member of the team in the final stages of the race to overtake and win the particular event, as happened in the 2013 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix. See the recent article by Kevin Carpenter: “There’s no Vettel in team: sporting match-fixing in F1?”[27]

In that race, using the tactic known as “team orders”, the Red Bull team were assured of first and second places, thereby maximising their points for the lucrative constructor’s championship!

Of course, it is always argued that Formula One is a team sport, not an individual one.

 

By way of a general footnote

The results of a year-long investigation by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) into Australian sport were announced on 7 February 2013 and again were quite shocking.

The ACC investigation revealed that there is “widespread” doping in some of Australia’s most popular sports, as well as links to organised crime that may have led to match fixing in some of them.

 

Concluding remarks

Match fixing in any sport is anathema and contrary to the essential nature of sport, which is fair play, and it behoves sports governing bodies to stamp out all kinds of cheating and methods of gaining unfair sporting advantages in order to protect and safeguard the integrity of their sports. But, it must be said, money and politics may get in the way!

So, let us hope that the ICC does not let up on its fight against corruption in cricket and that Blatter’s and Platini’s noble words (quoted above) are translated into action to kick corruption out of the “beautiful game”; and let us see how each of them fares against the fraudster barons of cricket and football, who are hell bent on destroying the integrity of these noble and popular sports and their very souls, for their own selfish and financial ends and gains.

This is certainly not cricket, to use a popular sporting expression, and neither is it “the beautiful game” of football! Nor, I would add, is it sport in any shape or form! In fact, the complete opposite!

 

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Appendix

European Gaming & Betting Association, European Elite Athletes Association, Remote Gambling Association and European Sports Security Association 

Press release of 23 May 2013

EU Sports Commissioner supports EU Athletes and online betting industry education program against match fixing

Berlin, 23 May 2013 – EU Athletes, the federation of player associations in Europe representing 25,000 athletes, completed today its three day seminar on education against match fixing. The seminar, which is part of multi-year program financed jointly by the European Commission and the European licensed online betting industry, highlighted the vital importance of all sectors working together to educate professional sportspeople about sports betting integrity.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for sport, said: “Match-fixing is a complex problem with many sides to it. But one very important element that the European Commission focuses on in our efforts to tackle match-fixing is prevention. In this respect, educational programmes and awareness raising campaigns can have a significant impact by reaching those most at risk of being approached to fix matches – the athletes themselves. I therefore very much look forward to the results of the project lead by EU Athletes and the European online betting industry.”

EU Athletes three day tutor training seminar heard first-hand from the police, the online betting industry, and former athletes on how to behave properly in relation to sports and betting. The purpose of the seminar was to give the player associations’ tutors tools to use during the locker room visits, when they are educating the players face to face.

The seminar is part of a ground breaking co-financed campaign (see link) by the European Commission and the European licensed online betting industry that targets 15,000 athletes in 13 countries in more than 10 different sports (including football, rugby, basketball and handball). The educational campaign is based on 6 main principles:

  • Know the rules of your sport relating to betting
  • It is safest to never bet on your own sport
  • Be careful about handling sensitive information
  • Fixing any part of an event is an absolute No-No
  • Report any approaches
  • Fixers will be caught: Suspicious bets are monitored

Jean-François Reymond, Secretary General of EU Athletes, added: “Our education project is unique in its focus on face-to-face education delivered directly into the locker rooms by people the players know and trust. This personal touch is giving players the knowledge to make sure they don’t gamble with their careers.”

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the EGBA and co-founder of this program said: “The EGBA is proud to be part of this campaign, which EGBA and the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) pioneered together with EU athletes back in 2010. Education is fundamental to combat the scourge of match fixing that hurts sports and operators alike.”

Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA added: “The Berlin seminar has demonstrated again the importance of player education and has thrown a light on what more might be achieved in the years to come by continued cooperation between the European Commission, betting operators, athletes associations and indeed anyone else who is committed to safeguarding the integrity of sports.”

 

END

 

 

Notes to Editors

The project will provide face-to-face education to 15,000 European elite level and youth athletes in 13 countries and at least 10 different sports. It has a total budget of € 500,000 and will be co-financed by the European Commission, the EGBA, RGA and ESSA with respective contributions of 46%, 41%, 10%, and 3%.

Building upon best practice, the education campaign will be delivered by people the players trust and respect – their national sporting trade unions. The countries and sports targeted are listed below. For a full list of the associations see link:

  • Sweden (Ice Hockey, Basketball)
  • France (Handball, Rugby, Cycling, Basketball, Football)
  • Italy (Volleyball, Basketball, Rugby; Sky)
  • Latvia (different sports)
  • Spain (Indoor Football, Handball, Cycling)
  • The Netherlands (Rugby, individual athletes, volleyball, Ice skating)
  • Germany (Basketball, Handball)
  • Lithuania (Basketball)
  • Ireland (Gaelic sports, Rugby)
  • United Kingdom (Football, Cricket, Rugby)
  • Slovenia (Ice hockey, Football, Basketball and individual sports)
  • Denmark (Handball)
  • Greece (Volleyball)

The education will be supported by athlete friendly key messages on posters, wallet cards, social media and an upgraded internet site that will be accessible from smart phones and tablets.

 

About EU Athletes

The European Elite Athletes Association is a federation of independent athletes associations from all over Europe with member associations from 15 European countries representing over 25,000 professional athletes. Among the sports represented are basketball, cricket, Gaelic sports, handball, ice hockey, rugby and volleyball. EU Athletes has member associations in for example Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Scotland, Spain and Sweden. For more information, please visit http://www.euathletes.org or call General Secretary Jean-François Reymond +33 6 60861223

 

About ESSA

The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) was established in 2005 by the leading online sports book operators in Europe to monitor any irregular betting patterns or possible insider betting from within each sport. To achieve this goal ESSA implemented an early warning system between its members that highlights any suspicious betting activity. The Early Warning System allows ESSA to work with the sports regulators and their disciplinary and legal department, ensuring that when an alert is given the regulator is informed immediately which may prevent the possibility of any game manipulation on a given event.

So far, ESSA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA, The FA, DFB, ATP, ITF, WTA and has established close relations with the IOC and many other sports regulators. ESSA members include: Betclic; Bet-at-Home; bwinparty; Digibet; Expekt; Goldbet; Interwetten; Ladbrokes; Paddy Power; Sportingbet; StanJames; Stanleybet, Unibet and William Hill. For more information on ESSA please go to the ESSA website http://www.eu-ssa.org or contact Khalid Ali, Secretary General at +32 2256 7565

 

About EGBA

The EGBA is an association of leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, BetClic, bwinparty, Digibet, Expekt, and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a limited part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land based offer is expected to grow from € 71.9 Billion GGR in 2010 to € 79 Billion GGR in 2015, thus keeping the lion’s share with 86% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, September 2011. For further information or comment please contact: Maarten Haijer +32 2 554 08 90

 

About the RGA

The RGA is the largest online gambling trade association in the world representing over 30 of the largest licensed and stock market-listed remote gambling operators and software providers (see www.rga.eu.com). The organisation provides the remote gambling industry with a single voice on all issues of importance to regulators, legislators, and key decision makers around the world. For further information, please contact Brian Wright +44 20 7831 2195

 

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Appendix II

European Sports Security Association (ESSA) 

Press release of 28 May 2013
Contact: Khalid Ali, Secretary General ESSA
Tel. +32 (0)22 567565
E-mail: ka@eu-ssa.org

 

European sports betting operators continue to deter match-fixers

Brussels, 28 May 2013 – The European Sports Security Association (ESSA), the betting industry’s integrity body, published its annual integrity report today, which provides further evidence of the organisation’s success in deterring match-fixers from defrauding Europe’s leading licensed bookmakers. It adds to the growing weight of evidence, notably published by law enforcement bodies, that it is primarily unregulated markets outside of Europe that are being targeted by criminals.

ESSA’s figures for 2012 show 109 alerts of which, after detailed examination of the evidence, only 6 were found to be of sufficient concern to be referred to the relevant sporting and regulatory authorities. That is slightly less than the previous year when 8 cases were referred. These figures are based on what ESSA members, employing sophisticated monitoring tools, have identified across their betting markets.

Khalid Ali, ESSA Secretary General, said “the licensed betting industry is at the forefront in combatting betting related match-fixing and today’s figures demonstrate that regulated online betting has actually created increased security. The ability of ESSA members to be able to identify consumers and trace transactions has added new layers of protection against fraud.”

He added: “Evidence from a variety of independent sources demonstrates that it is criminal organisations using unregulated bookmakers outside of Europe and poor sports governance that actually present the greatest threats to sport. It is increasingly clear that accusations against regulated betting operators are unfounded and are a result of commercial differences rather than integrity issues.”

Poor sports governance is a matter which has often been overlooked but which is now rightly being seen as central to addressing match-fixing and is a key focus of the European Parliament’s resolution on match-fixing agreed earlier this year and supported by ESSA. It is a matter highlighted by the 2012 report from FIFPro, the world football players’ union, on the issues facing players in Eastern Europe. It found that a widespread lack of salary payments, affecting nearly half of the players surveyed, contributed to them being more open to approaches from corrupters.

“Corrupters will continue to pray on the vulnerabilities of players until key sports governance issues, such as a lack of salary payments, are properly addressed,” Ali warned. “Greater focus on cross-sector cooperation, the effectiveness of which was clearly evident during the London 2012 Olympic Games, strengthening education programmes, which the betting sector has pioneered with EU Athletes, and addressing poor sports governance such as player salary issues should be the priorities.”

 

Ends

 

 

Notes for editors

The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) was established in 2005 by the leading online sports book operators in Europe to monitor any irregular betting patterns or possible insider betting from within each sport. To achieve this goal ESSA implemented an early warning system between its members that highlights any suspicious betting activity. The Early Warning System allows ESSA to work with the sports regulators and their disciplinary and legal department, ensuring that when an alert is given the regulator is informed immediately which may prevent the possibility of any game manipulation on a given event. ESSA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a number of sports federations including FIFA and the IOC, as well as regulatory bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner and the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority.

ESSA’s members include Bet-at-home, Bet365, Betclic, bwin.party, Digibet, Expekt, Goldbet, Interwetten, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Sportingbet, Stan James, Stanleybet, Unibet and William Hill

 

The ESSA integrity report can found at: http://www.eu-ssa.org

The EU Athlete led education programme will provide face-to-face education to 15,000 European athletes in 13 countries and across at least 10 different sports. It has a total budget of € 500,000 and will be co-financed by the European Commission, the EGBA, RGA and ESSA. More information on the project can be found at: http://www.eusportsbettingcode.org/

The FIFPro Black Book can be found at: http://www.fifpro.org/img/uploads/file/FIFPro%20Black%20Book%20Eastern%20Europe%20WEB%20DOWNLOAD.pdf

 

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[1] This article is an edited version of a paper presented in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 3 June 2013 at AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) as part of their Master of Advanced Studies in Sports Administration and Technology Degree programme.

[2] International sports lawyer and academic.

[3] As Albert Einstein put it succinctly: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” Or, as Sir Henry Newbolt put it in his famous poem “Vitai Lampada”: “Play up! Play up! And play the game!

[4] Sport is now an industry in its own right, worth globally more than 3% of world trade, and, in the European Union, sport accounts for 3.7% of the combined GNP of the twenty-seven member states.

[5] For examples of corruption in various sports, see the report, entitled Why sport is not immune to corruption, published by EPAS and The Council of Europe, 1 December 2008: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/epas/Source/Ressources/EPAS_INFO_Bures_en.pdf.

[6] See the recent book Sports Betting: Policy and Law by Paul Anderson, Ian Blackshaw and Robert Siekmann (eds.), Asser International Sports Law Series (TMC Asser Press, The Hague 2011).

[7] See Press Release of 23 May 2013 on the three-day seminar of EU Athletes, the Federation representing some 25,000 elite athletes in Europe, on “Education against Match-fixing” held in Berlin. The education campaign is based on six main principles: know the rules of your sport relating to betting; it is safest never to bet on your own sport; be careful about handling sensitive information; fixing any part of an event is an absolute no-no; report any approaches; fixers will be caught: suspicious bets are monitored.

[8] See the revelations in Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy by Ed Hawkins (Bloomsbury, London 2012).

[9] The genteel game of cricket is probably the last sport where corruption might be expected to take place! However, cricket, in recent years, has become more professional and, as such, may have lost touch with its so-called Corinthian values. Take, for example, the relatively new Indian Premier League (IPL), where players can become “stars” and millionaires overnight! The IPL has also recently been affected by “spot fixing” by three members of a leading IPL team, the Rajasthan Royals. See further on this at http://www.cricketcountry.com/cricket-articles/Live-Updates-IPL-2013-spot-fixing-controversy-mdash-N-Srinivasan-should-stay-away-till-probe-against-his-son-in-law-is-on-says-Rajeev-Shukla/26933.

[10] For further details of this scandal, see article entitled “Match Fixing in Cricket” by Ian Blackshaw, in The Times, 31 August 2010.

[11] In: GSLTR 2013/2, p. 17-22.

[12] See opinion, entitled “Kicking illegal betting out of football”, by Ian Blackshaw, posted on www.sportslaw.nl at AISLC/2010-01-26, and, in particular, details of the “Early Warning System” (EWS) introduced in 2005 by FIFA. The aim of EWS is to identify irregular betting patterns and manipulation of gaming in international sport. The system is primarily geared towards prevention, wherever possible. But, where this not possible and illegal betting is identified after the event, EWS is available to assist sports governing bodies in pursuing offenders with appropriate sporting sanctions.

[13] See opinion, entitled “Kick corruption out of football”, by Ian Blackshaw posted on www.sportslaw.nl at at AISLC/2010-11-20.

[14] For further information on this development, see “FIFA to set up Anti Corruption Body” by Ian Blackshaw, posted on www.sportslaw.nl at AISLC/2011-01-07.

[15] For an interesting in-depth review of and comments on this major criminal case of match fixing in football, see the article, entitled “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil… and it will all disappear: The biggest corruption scandal in Turkish football’s history”, by a leading Turkish lawyer and academic, Dr. Alara E. Yazicoglu, based in Geneva, Switzerland, which was published in the most recent issue (December 2012) of The International Sports Law Journal (ISLJ 2012/3-4), a leading and widely respected journal of the TMC Asser Instituut International Sports Law Centre in The Hague, The Netherlands.

[16] The fourth major sports club is Galatasaray SK.

[17] President and vice-president of Trabzonspor.

[18] The offer has been made to the footballers by their manager, Yusuf Turanli. Serdar Adali, the vice-president of Besiktas at the date, was also involved.

[19] Ibrahim Akin and Iskender Alin.

[20] Istanbul Büyüksehir Belediye Spor (IBB Spor).

[21] Approximately € 7,725,000.

[22] Approximately € 9,000,000.

[23] Approximately € 6,425,000.

[24] Approximately € 6,860,000.

[25] Approximately € 27,460,000.

[26] Approximately € 21,365,000.

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