UEFA has joined forces with other sports bodies to call for "stronger protection of the integrity of sport and a fair financial return from sports betting" to be incorporated in an influential European Parliament report on the integrity of online gambling in the European Union.
The call was made at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday involving UEFA, over 20 representatives of international sport from the Sports Rights Owners Coalition (represented by basketball, cricket, football, horse racing, rugby and tennis) and key European decision-makers. The report is by Christel Schaldemose MEP.
"Online sports betting is a phenomenon which has exploded across the EU in the last five years, with the rapid growth in multiple new betting products and the possibility to bet on losing outcomes," a statement issued by UEFA said on Friday. "The increase in irregular betting activities represents a major cross-border threat for sports bodies, public authorities and for the European consumer. At the meeting, the European Parliament, Member States and the Commission were called upon to address these challenges and to take this agenda forward through proactive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders."
The sports bodies emphasised that the recognition of a clear "competition organiser's right" would be a very positive development for sport. They also give full backing to French sports organisations in their campaign at national level to promote sport's integrity and secure a fair financial return for competition organisers. France, who hold the European Union presidency, is in the process of reforming its national betting regulation. It was stressed in Brussels that the controlled opening, which the French government has announced, offers a historic opportunity to recognise the "competition organiser's right" and to establish a best practice model for other countries.
Integrity and trust
"The integrity of sporting events and public trust in them must be preserved, as must the fundamental belief that all athletes are competing to win," the statement said. "Sports competition organisers should be represented in any regulatory authority which is created, and closely associated with the development of the sports betting market. Betting operators must contribute to a sustainable, workable and financed framework to preserve the integrity of sports competitions and to protect them against any form of betting corruption."
"Moreover, as sports competition organisers own the rights to their events, legislative initiatives should confirm that commercial exploitation through sports betting can only be undertaken with their consent and with a fair financial return to the sports movement for reinvestment in sports development initiatives. According to the solidarity principle between professional and amateur sport, the whole sports movement would benefit from this additional funding."
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