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13 April 2012

Finland hosts first INTERPOL-FIFA sports integrity workshop

HELSINKI, Finland – As part of INTERPOL’s initiative with FIFA against corruption in sport, players, referees, betting regulators and law enforcement officials have taken part in the first of a series of training workshops to improve awareness and understanding of corruption in football, of the strategies used by its perpetrators, and of the methods to recognize, resist and report them.

The two-day workshop (11-12 April) brought together some 30 key officials from Finland’s Ministry of sport and culture, football federation, players union, and the referees association. The Football Federation of Finland and the Finnish Police worked collaboratively with INTERPOL in the design and preparation of the workshop.

Finland’s Minister of Sport and Culture,  Paavo Arhinmäki, underlined his government’s strong support for efforts in fighting match-fixing and the need for national authorities ‘to work together with clubs and especially with young players’.

FIFA’s Senior Security Manager, Serge Dumortier, said the workshop was ‘the first real fruit from the INTERPOL - FIFA partnership’. He described how football and many other international sports face a crisis in which they are squeezed between massive international gambling on their matches and contests, and criminals who have no interest in sport.

Officials at the workshop also received a detailed briefing of the efforts being done to raise awareness of match-fixing in Italy’s Lega Pro Division by its General Manager,  Francisco Ghirelli, with Risto Nieminen, CEO of the World Lotteries Association, reiterating the Association’s ‘ongoing support’ for the INTERPOL-FIFA Anti-Corruption Initiative. John Abbott,  Chair of INTERPOL’s Steering Group, Integrity in Sport, moderated the workshop.

In May 2011, INTERPOL entered into a 10-year initiative with FIFA to develop and implement a global training, education and prevention programme with a focus on regular and irregular betting as well as match-fixing.

To achieve this goal INTERPOL launched a dedicated Integrity in Sport unit to develop and implement a training programme within the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation which will open in Singapore in 2014.

"Combating match-fixing and corruption in sport is at an extremely critical phase. The need to educate athletes in the methods used by criminals and their networks to infiltrate International Sport is essential, to protect them and the game itself. The success of this two-day workshop, was a direct result of the invaluable and effective collaboration between the Football Federation of Finland, Finnish Police and INTERPOL," said Fred Lord, INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport Programme Manager.

The objective of INTERPOL’s Programme is to improve awareness and understanding of corruption in sport, the strategies used by its perpetrators and the methods to detect and counteract them.