Integrity in sport
The football community is faced with a significant number of match-fixing incidents and allegations of corruption. Match-fixing in football is a global challenge, with more than 60 countries initiating investigations over the past two years.
Estimates of the money made through illegal betting alone run into hundreds of millions of euros annually, while the use of Internet gambling networks has made it extremely easy to bet on matches anywhere in the world.
With large profits to be made, match-fixing has become more and more attractive to criminals and organized crime groups. Match-fixing also poses a wider danger, as the money generated is used by criminals for other illegal activities.
It has never been more important to implement coordinated strategies to prevent match-fixing, incorporating stakeholders on national, regional and international levels.
INTERPOL and FIFA entered into a joint initiative with two main aims:
- To educate and train key actors in football on how to recognize, resist and report attempts to corrupt or fix matches;
- To better prepare law enforcement on how to investigate and cooperate in corruption or match-fixing related cases.
INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport programme is a global training, education and prevention initiative with a focus on match-fixing as well as irregular and illegal betting.
The objective is to raise key actors’ awareness and understanding of the phenomenon of match-fixing, the strategies used by its perpetrators and the methods to detect and counteract them. The programme offers a number of tools to protect football from corruption, including national and regional workshops, and e-learning modules.
Added to this framework is a wide range of INTERPOL services which together form a multifaceted strategy, able to effectively address match-fixing and corruption in football.
- INTERPOL Major Event Support Teams (IMESTs) can be deployed to assist member countries in the preparation, coordination and implementation of security arrangements for major events, including sporting events such as the Olympics or FIFA World Cup. IMEST team members facilitate the real-time exchange among all 190 INTERPOL member countries of messages and vital police data, including fingerprints, photos, wanted person notices, and data relating to stolen and lost travel documents and stolen motor vehicles.
- Operation Soga is an ongoing tactical operation coordinated by INTERPOL to disrupt the illegal soccer gambling activities of criminal organizations in Asia. As of 2013, four Soga operations have resulted in:
- 2,360 successful raids;
- The closure of illegal gambling dens which handled illegal bets worth more than USD 2 billion;
- The seizure of more than USD 27 million in cash.
- The Match-Fixing Task Force is a specialist network of investigators. The initiative provides an international cooperation platform enabling member countries to enhance the exchange of intelligence and experience and to develop strategies to combat the organized crime networks involved in match-fixing across geographical borders.
Protecting integrity in football
INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport programme offers a continuum of learning based on five core principles: Partnerships, Information, Coordination, Prevention and Proactivity (PICPP).
The programme can assist football associations, government departments, law enforcement agencies and other relevant stakeholders in developing prevention strategies, integrity units and training courses for specific audiences.
- Partnerships: No organization can tackle the problem of match-fixing alone. A cross-sector approach is necessary at national, regional and international levels in order to successfully reduce match-fixing. Strategies should incorporate partnerships between national football associations and betting organizations as well as public authorities including law enforcement and regulators.
- Information: All partners – including stakeholders, key actors and targets – need general details about match-fixing to ensure there is a shared understanding of the problem. Each group also needs specific advice that can directly assist them in their individual role in protecting the integrity of sport.
- Coordination: It is important that all stakeholders operate in a coordinated manner, especially at national level, to ensure a comprehensive and unified approach to both the prevention of match-fixing and responses to allegations of match-fixing.
- Prevention: This is the most important factor in tackling match-fixing and corruption in football. Prevention measures include awareness raising, training and education, as well as deterrents such as regulations that ensure sanctions for unprofessional behaviour.
- Proactivity: Exhibiting leadership and acting proactively is essential to creating an effective strategy to protect football from match-fixing. Anticipating threats and putting the necessary preventative measures in place is necessary for the long-term preservation of integrity in football.