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Integrity is at the core of UEFA's mission. Match-fixing – which entails the manipulation of the course or outcome of a football match, whether for sporting, financial or other reasons – is a fundamental violation of this mission and football's universal values.
To protect football from match-fixing and safeguard the integrity of European football matches and competitions, UEFA's Anti-Match-Fixing Unit works closely with the football family and broader sports community to promote integrity, raise awareness regarding the threat of match-fixing, and identify, investigate, and sanction any match-fixing offences.
Match-fixing can be closely associated with serious criminal activities, such as corruption, fraud and money laundering, with the resulting profits feeding other criminal networks. It typically transcends national borders, making detection and prosecution particularly challenging.
Since 2011, UEFA has supported integrity efforts confederation-wide through its network of 55 national association integrity officers. UEFA's HatTrick programme provides financial resources and strategic direction to these integrity officers, who are responsible for managing a comprehensive local anti-match-fixing programme and conducting investigations in accordance with local laws and tailored to the local cultural and football environment.
Prevention lies at the heart of UEFA's anti-match-fixing strategy. Through a dedicated education and prevention programme that leverages the pedagogical experience of the UEFA Academy and the practical expertise of the Anti-Match-Fixing Unit, UEFA strives to protect European football from match-fixing through player and referee education and awareness raising, national association empowerment initiatives, and capacity building within the broader football integrity family.
Players, referees and all other relevant participants must have a clear understanding of UEFA disciplinary regulations regarding match-fixing, including their duty to report any corruption attempts. By increasing knowledge and understanding of the personal and professional risk posed by match-fixing, driving all participants to embrace their duty to report, and sharing strategies for risk reduction and vulnerability management, UEFA can better prevent incidents of match-fixing.
UEFA offers targeted anti-match-fixing training for players and referees participating in UEFA competitions through in-person training sessions, virtual training opportunities, and an e-learning anti-match-fixing module on the UEFA App for Players. The Anti-Match-Fixing Unit additionally collaborates with the UEFA Academy and leading academic experts to innovate new approaches to match-fixing prevention. This has resulted most notably in the recent development of a new concept in stakeholder education: Fight The Fix (UEFA FTF), an anti-match-fixing education programme delivered in collaboration with the University of Lausanne.
Built around three intensive weeks of sessions spread over seven months, the UEFA FTF programme immerses participants in a fictious match-fixing investigation. Participants include UEFA member association integrity officers as well as other professionals involved in fighting match-fixing, such as public and law enforcement authorities or integrity specialists from other sports organisations and institutions. Through this investigation, as well as complimentary presentations by leading academics and integrity practitioners, participants both explore and apply the core competencies needed to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute match-fixing cases. The inaugural session ran from September 2022 to April 2023.
Assistance/support for member associations
In addition to holding responsibility for the design, implementation, and evaluation of education and prevention efforts for relevant participants in UEFA competitions, UEFA also assists UEFA member associations with the implementation of a comprehensive education and prevention strategy locally, ensuring the consistency of key messages across national associations in a format customised to the local audience and context.
More broadly, UEFA's integrity officer training and engagement strategy aims to empower officers by creating new and regular training opportunities, enhancing the resources at their disposal, and innovating targeted intervention and assistance initiatives. These efforts serve in parallel to better equip integrity officers to collaborate with state authorities, building capacity at the national level and strengthening information sharing processes.
UEFA brings together all integrity officers every other year for a confederation-wide gathering, complemented by multiple regional workshops held on an annual basis. Regional workshops promote engagement among small groups of officers with similar region or topic-specific integrity concerns, and may also include relevant state authorities and other key stakeholders, thereby strengthening integrity collaboration at the national and regional level.
The UEFA Integrity Platform (desktop, mobile app, and toll-free number) allows players, referees, officials and members of the public to report match-fixing and other integrity-related concerns to UEFA, securely and confidentially. The platform – which is currently available in seven languages – offers the possibility of communicating with UEFA via a non-attributable/anonymous ID without disclosing one's identity or any personally identifiable information.
Football betting has become a multi-billion Euro industry fuelled by football's enormous popularity worldwide and the growth of online betting. Whilst the overwhelming majority of this betting is predicated/based on the reliability and integrity of football matches, unscrupulous individuals – some with ties to violent, organised criminal networks – have sought to manipulate match results in order to make illicit/illegal profits on the betting market.
Powered by Sportradar, the UEFA Betting Fraud Detection System (BFDS) identifies such fraudulent activity in real-time through analysis of the global betting market. UEFA-BFDS suspicious match alerts trigger, based on match jurisdiction, comprehensive investigations by the UEFA Anti-Match-Fixing Unit or the relevant national association integrity officer, frequently in conjunction with state authorities.
UEFA maintains a clear legal framework, applicable to the competitions that it organises, designed to safeguard UEFA competitions from match-fixing.
UEFA's disciplinary regulations specifically mandate/state that all persons bound by UEFA's rules and regulations must refrain from any behaviour that damages or could damage the integrity of matches and competitions and must cooperate fully with UEFA at all times in its efforts to combat such behaviour (Article 12 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations).
UEFA's admission criteria further require clubs participating in UEFA competitions to meet UEFA's strict integrity standards (Article 50.3 of the UEFA Statutes).
UEFA actively investigates and sanctions match-fixing cases and other related integrity violations impacting UEFA matches and competitions. UEFA also readily assists UEFA member associations and state authorities who request assistance with their own investigations and related sporting or criminal proceedings. By working closely with public authorities, UEFA contributes to the detection and investigation of serious criminal offences, and intelligence obtained in the context of criminal investigations can provide valuable evidence to assist UEFA and national association investigations and disciplinary proceedings.
It is generally recognised that match-fixing is not a problem that can be solved by sport alone. UEFA's Anti-Match-Fixing Unit partners with a wide range of sport integrity stakeholders – ranging from national association integrity officers and state authorities (including but not only the Council of Europe and the Group of Copenhagen, Interpol, Europol, and the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)) to integrity associations and betting operators, associations, and regulators – to tackle match-fixing through collaboration on monitoring, investigations, education, and other key initiatives. Recent developments include:
Law enforcement authorities
The European Union's law enforcement agency (Europol) and UEFA on 26 April 2022 brought key stakeholders together for the first time in a one-day conference at Europol HQ in The Hague, Netherlands, to identify new ways to investigate and cooperate in cases related to sport corruption and match-fixing.
UEFA was pleased to further its engagement with state authorities in late June 2021 when the Council of Europe granted UEFA observer status in the follow-up committee of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, commonly referred to as the Macolin Convention, a legal instrument and the only rule of international law specifically addressing match-fixing. Among others, the convention pushes state authorities to work with sports organisations, betting operators and sport governing bodies to prevent, detect, and sanction match-fixing and proposes a common legal framework to facilitate such cooperation worldwide.
UEFA signed a joint cooperation agreement with FIFPRO, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, in October 2021, which will facilitate closer coordination in the fight against match-fixing to include the exchange of information received via FIFPRO's Red Button whistleblowing app. Available only to professional footballers via FIFPRO or the relevant national player association, Red Button is a secure platform for reporting match-fixing concerns that allows players to report confidentially and, if they so choose, anonymously.
- Revamped UEFA anti-match-fixing working group gets down to business
- Europol and UEFA hold first international conference on match-fixing in football
- FIFPRO and UEFA join forces to fight match-fixing
- The Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (the Macolin Convention)
The Anti-Match-Fixing Unit supports the integrity of all UEFA competitions via tailored, competition-specific integrity measures. In keeping with UEFA's overall anti-match-fixing strategy, prevention and education are key components of any competition integrity programme, which may include dedicated education sessions for players, referees and other participants.
For UEFA EURO 2020, for example, UEFA implemented a comprehensive integrity programme to safeguard the competition against manipulation and corruption. The programme united key stakeholders from the participating and host countries as well as public authorities – among others, experts from Europol, Interpol, and the Council of Europe – to coordinate tournament-focused integrity initiatives, including dedicated education sessions with the participating national teams, referees and referee assistants.
The tournament's pan-European structure – in which 11 countries throughout Europe hosted matches – provided a unique opportunity to build capacity among the national and international stakeholders who contributed to the success of EURO 2020 integrity efforts.
Building on this success, UEFA launched a tailored integrity initiative for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 focused around stakeholder engagement, prevention efforts to include dedicated awareness sessions delivered by the 16 integrity officers of the participating teams, pre-competition coordination, and in-competition activities among other actions.
European Football Anti-Match-Fixing Working Group
In 2014, UEFA established a dedicated working group to analyse and tackle match-fixing across Europe, the European Football Anti-Match-Fixing Working Group. The working group comprises a permanent core group – the Council of Europe, the Group of Copenhagen, Europol, Interpol, and UEFA – joined by additional organisations and stakeholders based on the meeting location and agenda. Working group meetings allow members to exchange information and good practices, advising UEFA on how to protect European football from match-fixers. The European Football Anti-Match-Fixing Working Group meets once per year, with the latest meeting having taken place on 5 July in Manchester ahead of the start of the UEFA Women's EURO 2022.
Anti-Match-Fixing Action Plan
The UEFA Executive Committee agreed in July 2021 to increase the resources UEFA invests into the fight against match-fixing and to further develop its internal unit of experts and investigators in the field.
These additional resources will be deployed according to an action plan, informed by the results of an independent feasibility study conducted in 2020, that focuses inter alia on:
- Strengthening cooperation with relevant international and local authorities
- Increasing expertise and support for the key persons fighting match-fixing at the national and international level (in particular UEFA member associations' integrity officers)
- Enhancing education, awareness, and training efforts
- Leveraging additional technological tools to better identify integrity concerns and facilitate related investigation and analysis
- Increasing UEFA staff devoted to anti-match-fixing efforts