PtG Article 09.03.2012

Council of Europe pushes for action against corruption in FIFA and match-fixing

In a meeting on Wednesday, a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe took further steps in fighting unethical behaviour in sport when it unanimously adopted two resolutions proposing actions for ensuring good governance and ethics in sport and combatting match-fixing.

(Updated 16 March 2012) 

FIFA should initiate an internal investigation into the claims that the candidates in its recent presidential election used their positions to obtain “unfair advantages for themselves or for potential voters”, stressed a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Particularly the successful candidate from FIFA’s last Presidential election, Sepp Blatter, who was elected to his fourth term as President of football’s world governing body, should be scrutinised said the PACE’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which met on Wednesday to approve a report on ‘Good governance and ethics in sport’. 

Blatter ended up running unopposed in the FIFA elections last June as the rival candidate, Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew because of accusations that he was bribing voters. Bin Hammam argues that it was a conspiracy and has challenged FIFA’s lifetime ban from football in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The committee also requested transparency from FIFA regarding the ISL case, where several FIFA Executives are alleged to have been involved in receiving bribes in exchange for offering television rights to Swiss sports promoter ISL. The committee requested that FIFA make available all documents regarding the case. Blatter has previously stated that he was willing to publish all ISL-related documents but has so far failed to do so. 

A draft resolution was adopted unanimously, in which the committee stated that FIFA should “cast full light on the facts underlying the various scandals which, in recent years, have tarnished its image and that of international football”. 

Read the full report on ‘Good governance and ethics in sport’.

Harmonised laws against match-fixing

The Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media furthermore agreed that the problem of match-fixing has become so great that new harmonised laws are urgently needed. The committee unanimously called on the 47 member states of the Council of Europe and asked them to “draw up a convention – or binding international treaty – against match-fixing and illegal betting.”

The committee continued to propose specific measures that might be taken in the meantime, proposing a ban on betting on lower-division football matches and amateur competitions, as these competitions might be “vulnerable to attempted corruption”. 

Further suggestions included working more with betting operators to identify suspicious bets, teaching young athletes about the risks of accepting money for altering their performance, closer cooperation with national and international police to enhance the effectiveness of the investigations and ensuring that sports fraud is made a criminal offence. 

It also called on international sports organisations to “act together in a coordinated manner to combat match-fixing, while defining the expected contributions and specific role of each international federation”, and to set up a supervisory body within each sports federation with appropriate power and means to investigate. 

Read the full report on ‘The need to combat match-fixing’.

Sport ministers will look at possible convention

At the Sport Ministers’ Conference in Belgrade on the 15th of March the members agreed on a resolution that invites the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) – an initiative under the Council consisting of 33 European countries and 19 partners from the sports world, including UEFA – to launch the negotiation of a possible new international convention against the manipulation of sports results and notably match-fixing. 

According to the resolution the purpose should be “to establish an appropriate framework of commitment and co-operation to fight this scourge”. 

Read the resolution adopted by the 12th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport. 

PACE is a part of the Council of Europe and represents Council's 47 member states. The texts adopted by PACE – recommendations, resolutions and opinions – serve as guidelines for the Committee of Ministers, national governments, parliaments and political parties.