Fighting match-fixing: Unique trust between European players and their unions a strong asset
Match-fixing robs sport of its essence: the athlete’s joy of competing in an honest and fair environment coupled with the spectators’ excitement over the uncertain outcome of the competition. Alarmed by this threat World Players’ affiliate EU Athletes and its members have committed themselves to combatting match-fixing through preventative measures - the PROtect Integrity Campaign. Since 2010 EU Athletes members have been delivering face-to-face education to players and athletes across sports and European Union member-states.
“The unique trust between the players and their unions is a strong asset in fighting match-fixing. EU Athletes members have access to locker rooms across Europe and the players regard them as credible partners,” said Jean-François Reymond, General Secretary of EU Athletes.
Trust counts when delivering effective education and it is vitally important in situations where players seek to report suspicious activities such as being approached for inside information. In this case, player associations can provide support in the first instance and help the player to connect with the relevant authorities. To prepare EU Athletes members for these situations the recent edition of the PROtect Integrity Campaign included a Train-the-Trainer workshop run by INTERPOL.
“PROtect Integrity educates players and unions equally. It also aims to establish the link to the national platforms where applicable,” said Reymond. Setting-up national platforms to collect, analyze, and disseminate information relevant to the fight against match-fixing is a measure prescribed in the ‘Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions’.
“Through their training and their proximity to the players our members are very well-placed to be partners to these platforms”, added Reymond.
The 2016 PROtect Integrity Campaign reached close to 15,000 European elite level and youth athletes in 11 countries (Denmark, Greece, France, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, France, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom) and at least 10 different sports (basketball, cricket, cycling, football, Gaelic sports, handball, ice-hockey, indoor football, rugby, water-polo). It builds on previous initiatives in which EU Athletes created a player’s code of conduct and started a website which makes betting-related rules and regulations of each sport, and relevant national legislation easily accessible.
The 2016 project was co-financed by the European Gambling and Betting Association (EGBA), the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA). It also received funding from the European Commission’s Erasmus+ budget line.
“Preventing match-fixing requires a constant effort in the fast-paced elite sport environment,” said Reymond. “We are pleased that our partners share this view and will continue to support new “PROtect Integrity” efforts.” The next project is set to start in January 2018.