By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
On 11 June, 2015, the European Parliament approved a joint motion for a resolution promoting the adoption of good governance practices in sport to protect it from the adverse impacts of corruption and fraud, including money laundering and match-fixing.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) agreed the joint motion for a resolution, following the recent revelations of alleged high-profile corruption at senior levels in FIFA, the world governing body of association football, and underlined the need for all international sports organisations to have transparent, accountable and democratic structures in place.
Highlighting the importance of good governance principles for the integrity of sport and in preventing corruption, MEPs stressed that:
“Corruption and money laundering are intrinsically linked and a large number of Member States have been affected by match-fixing and other financial crimes often related to criminal organisations operating on an international scale”.
“If not addressed urgently and properly, corruption may continue to undermine trust in sports institutions and threaten the integrity of sport as a whole.”
In line with this, the European Parliament has called upon Sepp Blatter to step down immediately and for an interim President to be appointed, pending the election of a permanent successor to Blatter in December, to enable reforms to FIFA to be made without delay, and also for the Garcia Report on the bidding process for the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup to be published immediately.
The chairman of the European Sports Security Association (ESSA), Mike O’Kane, welcomed the European Parliament’s stand against corruption in sport and the associated negative impacts on regulated betting companies and consumers who are the victims of related fraud, such as match-fixing, commenting:
“ESSA has campaigned for some years on the importance of establishing transparent and accountable governance in sport as a fundamental measure to protect the integrity of sporting events.”
In another development regarding the FIFA corruption scandals, on 10 June, 2015 the Swiss Prosecutor removed data and equipment from FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, including items from the offices of Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke, in connection with the ongoing criminal investigations into the awarding of the FIFA World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
Furthermore, the FIFA Director of Communications and Public Affairs has resigned on 11 June, 2015, with immediate effect. Walter De Gregorio was a close aide to Sepp Blatter.
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’