European Ministers agree on convention against match-fixing and illegal betting
Ministers from around 50 countries are expected to sign a new convention at a conference in Switzerland in September where they will also discuss the risk of other forms of corruption in sport
A significant step in the fight against organised crime and unethical behaviour in sport was taken yesterday 9 July when the 47 member states of the Council of Europe adopted a new “Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions”.
The convention commits the member states and sports organisations to raise their efforts in the fight against corruption on the sports arena and against illegal betting, both of which appear to be growing problems thanks to the explosive development in Internet communication.
According to the Council of Europe, the purpose of the convention is to “prevent, detect, punish and discipline the manipulation of sports competitions, as well as enhance the exchange of information and national and international cooperation between the public authorities concerned, and with sports organisations and sports betting operators.”
It is now up to the governments to introduce new laws and other initiatives that can, among others:
- Prevent conflicts of interest in sports betting operators and sports organisations
- Encourage the sports betting regulatory authorities to fight against fraud, if necessary by limiting the supply of sports bets or suspending the taking of bets
- Fight against illegal sports betting, allowing to close or restrict access to the operators concerned and block financial flows between them and consumers
Also the sports organisations are reminded of their responsibilities in the convention, and the text stresses the importance of having “good governance principles”.
This aspect will be further highlighted when the European ministers responsible for sport meet to sign the convention at a conference on the 18th September in Magglingen in Switzerland.
Before the signatures are given, the ministers will embark on a debate about a closely related issue, namely the risk of corruption and need for good governance in the sports organisations. Here, representatives of the Swiss government, the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, the sports movement and Play the Game are invited to discuss with the ministers how good governance in sport can be achieved without damaging the association freedom that sport enjoys.
To prepare this debate, the Council of Europe has produced a background paper on the risk of corruption in sport. The paper includes a proposal for a resolution from the ministers, defining new working areas of the Council of Europe, and it is publically available on the conference webpage.
Although the convention is written in Europe, all countries in the world are invited to sign up, and in the course of the negotiations countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Morocco have been consulted. They are also expected to sign the convention in Magglingen as a first step of making the convention truly global.