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Protecting the integrity of the game


The Professional Football Strategy Council has adopted a joint position paper that includes a concrete action plan to protect the integrity of football and fight match-fixing.

UEFA, along with Europe's clubs, leagues and players, helps comprise the PFSC
UEFA, along with Europe's clubs, leagues and players, helps comprise the PFSC ©UEFA.com

At its meeting in Sofia, the Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC) – composed of representatives of Europe's national associations (UEFA), clubs (ECA), leagues (EPFL) and players (FIFPro Division Europe) – unanimously adopted a joint position paper which includes a concrete action plan to protect the integrity of football and fight match-fixing. This document was also ratified by the UEFA Executive Committee today in Sofia.

The European football family has thus decided to join forces in order to tackle the threat of match-fixing, recognising the risk of it in European football as a global threat and a challenge for the sport in its entirety.

A joint action plan with a number of concrete initiatives focusing on education, prevention, monitoring and disciplinary sanctions, designed to protect the integrity of football in Europe, has therefore also been developed and will be fully implemented together by all the members of the European football family.

This is an absolute priority for all concerned and underlines the common zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing. Together, the ECA, the EPFL, FIFPro Division Europe and UEFA also aim to establish a code of conduct for the integrity of the game for all participants in European football, including players, referees, officials and administrators.

However, all four organisations agree that sports bodies do not have the means or the legal jurisdictions to tackle by themselves a problem, which often involves criminal organisations. 'Sports fraud' should therefore be recognised as a specific criminal offence in national legislations throughout Europe, as this would help to ensure a consistent, effective and coordinated means to deter match-fixing. At the same time, European states should consider dedicated prosecution services with a primary responsibility of dealing with sports fraud cases.

Close cooperation entailing information exchange between police services, investigating and prosecuting authorities, sports bodies and betting companies is essential. This would help sports bodies in the prosecution of disciplinary cases while at the same time allowing state authorities to benefit from their expertise in order to investigate and prosecute crimes.

Recognition of a sports organiser's right in the context of betting is also paramount in helping to tackle threats relating to the integrity of sport, to secure a fair financial return to sports bodies and their members, to supply funding to further protect the integrity of the game, and also to finance other areas such as youth, amateur and female sport – to develop the economic and social role of sport.

Finally, efforts towards the adoption of an international convention on match-fixing under the auspices of the Council of Europe should be encouraged – with full involvement of football stakeholders.

The action plan can be found below and the complete position paper can be downloaded here.

Joint action plan for the integrity of the game
(to be fully implemented as of 2013)

  • I.            Code of conduct
    • Creation and adoption of a joint code of conduct for all participants in European football, including players, coaches, referees, officials and administrators
    • Introduction of provisions prohibiting players, coaches, referees and officials from, as a minimum, betting on matches and/or competitions in which they are involved, as decided by the relevant competition organisers
    • Implementation of whistle-blowing procedures in each football organisation
    • Inclusion of relevant provisions on match-fixing in player contracts

  • II.            Education and prevention programmes
    • Education campaigns at referee courses and UEFA youth competitions (players, coaches and match officials)
    • FIFPro project 'Don't fix it' – supported by the European Union
    • EPFL project 'Staying onside' with the DFL and Transparency International – supported by the European Union
    • Prevention initiatives at national level by national associations
    • Further education at club level through the ECA and the EPFL

  • III.            Betting fraud detection and reporting systems
    • Continued monitoring of European competitions, the top two domestic divisions and cup competitions in each of the 53 UEFA member associations
    • Continued monitoring of national competitions by national football bodies
    • Establishment of a confidential and trusted reporting system supported by all parties

  • IV.            Coordination and cooperation through integrity officers network and other persons specifically dedicated to integrity matters at national level
    • Integrity officers in each national association
    • Designated contact persons in each professional football league, professional football club and player union
    • Exchange of best practices in the area of information-sharing of betting related data, also through regular conferences and workshops with networking opportunities for experts of football bodies, public authorities and police forces

  • V.            Investigation and prosecution
    • Zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing
    • Active cooperation with public authorities
    • Common definition of 'sports fraud' as a criminal offence
    • Harmonisation of disciplinary and sporting sanctions at European and national level

  • VI.            Contribution of betting industry
    • Organiser's right to a fair return in the context of sports betting as a compensation from the betting industry for the commercial exploitation of sports competition organisers' rights
    • Contractual and binding agreements with betting operators, also to establish the types of bet allowed
    • Prohibition to offer bets on youth competitions at national and European level
    • Financial revenues to be deployed in the fight to protect the integrity of sport, as well as to support grassroots sport, youth development or CSR activities
    • Introduction of betting operators standards in cooperation with sports bodies