UEFA has reiterated its determination to fight against match-fixing in football and has stressed the need for sports bodies and state law enforcement agencies to work closely together to combat the increasing dangers posed by this negative phenomenon in various sports.
The call was made at a keynote conference in Nyon organised by UEFA and the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) on the theme of Kicking Fraud Out Of Sport. Officials from the IAP, UEFA and world football body FIFA came together with state prosecutors, anti-corruption officers and police officers for two days of deliberations.
The conference centred on fraudulent activity within regulated sporting activities, with special emphasis on match-fixing practices and other criminal activity within football and other sports which are designed to improperly influence the outcome with a view to economic or other gain.
It also examined the relationship between the official regulatory sporting authorities and state prosecutors, as well as the potential partnership opportunities in this respect. The event was considered the start of a process which aims to lead to the creation of guidelines for prosecutors and sporting regulatory authorities in this area of criminality with the backing of UEFA and the IAP.
The IAP, established in 1995, is the sole worldwide prosecutors' organisation. It now has more than 130 organisational members from over 90 different jurisdictions, representing every continent, as well as many individual members. The IAP's objectives include promoting the effective, fair, impartial and efficient prosecution of criminal offences.
Topics discussed in Nyon included prosecution of a match-fixing case, legal frameworks relating to sports frauds, betting issues and cooperation between sports bodies and law enforcement agencies. Among the speakers were UEFA legal officers, prosecutors from several European countries, and representatives from Europol, Eurojust, the Council of Europe and national football associations.
The seminar gave UEFA the chance to repeat the stark warning issued by UEFA President Michel Platini recently that match-fixing represented a mortal danger for sport, as well as UEFA's zero tolerance policy for those caught manipulating matches.
"The fight against match-fixing and corruption is certainly the top priority for UEFA, the UEFA President and the UEFA Executive Committee in the years to come," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino. "It is our job to protect football, it is our responsibility to do what we can against corruption, to fight against this cancer that we have to eradicate from football.
"It is obvious that if the fans and children have the impression that the result of a match is known before the match starts, then this clearly affects the soul of football or any other sport," he added. "To be able to efficiently fight against match-fixing, we are committed to doing everything we can – but we also need the help of the law enforcement agencies and authorities. We need to work hand in hand, we have to act very strongly and in a united way."
It was underlined at various moments in the seminar that sports bodies do not have legal capacities or powers to tackle the issue by themselves, hence the need for the public authorities to join the sports organisations in the campaign.
"Match-fixing jeopardises the integrity of the competitions, damages the social, educational and cultural values reflected by sports, and jeopardises the economic role of sports," said Pierre Cornu, UEFA's chief counsel for integrity and regulatory affairs. "The risks are increasing," he continued, citing, among other things, the dynamic development of the betting market to incorporate such elements as online gambling, in addition to the involvement of highly organised criminal organisations looking to make huge financial killings.
Highlighting its determination to eliminate the phenomenon, UEFA's Executive Committee approved a report earlier this year by its betting/match-fixing working group, which proposed measures that European football should take to address the threat of match-fixing – including the setting up of a network of Integrity Officers at European level.
Moreover, UEFA has established a 24-hour betting fraud detection system (BFDS) which monitors matches across Europe, including all UEFA competition fixtures, as well as all first and second division and national cup games throughout its 53 member associations. Education sessions are also held by UEFA at European youth final tournaments to warn young players in particular of the risks of match-fixing.
The seminar also heard that UEFA's actions against match-fixing included support to the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe, and cooperation with international bodies such as Interpol and Europol, as well as betting operators and other sports organisations.
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