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Europol and UEFA hold first international conference on match-fixing in football

Both organisations express their strong commitment to cooperating in tackling match-fixing within the game

Europol-UEFA international conference at Europol HQ in The Hague, Netherlands
Europol-UEFA international conference at Europol HQ in The Hague, Netherlands @Europol

The European Union’s law enforcement agency (Europol) and UEFA have today brought key stakeholders together for the first time to identify new ways to investigate and cooperate in cases related to sport corruption and match-fixing.

A total of 109 senior officials from law enforcement, judicial authorities and national football associations from 49 countries attended the joint Europol-UEFA conference at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Over the course of the day, expert panels analysed the most pressing current and future threats to protecting the integrity of football and fighting organised crime groups. They discussed topics such as operational collaboration between law enforcement bodies and football Integrity officers, and the early detection of suspicious betting patterns.

Prevention was also high on the agenda with discussions focusing on new recently adopted legal frameworks and existing tools designed to prevent match-fixing and facilitate information sharing.

“Organised crime quickly understood that a lot of football clubs were suffering financially as a consequence of COVID-19. And where there is less money, players, coaches, officials and even club executives are increasingly vulnerable to being corrupted by fixers,” said Burkhard Mühl, Head of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC).

“What with the huge profits associated with ‘making the unpredictable predictable’, we are seeing more and more cases of match-fixing and suspicious results. Cooperation between law enforcement and sports organisations is vital to not only detect and investigate suspected corruption in football, but also to stop such fraudulent activities before they can even begin,” added the Head of Europol’s EFECC.

“This first joint Europol-UEFA international conference is an important step forward in the fight against match-fixing, and sends out a strong signal that both organisations are here to pool their forces and do their utmost to minimise this phenomenon”, said UEFA’s Managing Director of Integrity and Regulatory, Angelo Rigopoulos.

“Nowadays, more than ever before, European football and the law enforcement sector need to remain united and offer their mutual support in seeking to protect our popular sport from this scourge, by cooperating in joint activities, implementing common projects and exchanging information in the area of match-fixing”, added Vincent Ven, UEFA’s Head of Anti-Match-Fixing.

Experts at Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre work with law enforcement authorities across the European Union to identify links between suspicious matches and suspects, and to uncover the organised crime groups who orchestrate these multi-million Euro frauds against sport.

UEFA’s team of anti-match-fixing experts work on education, intelligence, investigation and cooperation with its network of 55 Integrity Officers as well as key stakeholders and partners, with particular emphasis given to preventing any issues related to match-fixing and betting irregularities.