European Lotteries urges cooperation to combat match-fixing in Europe

14th November 2013 8:26 am GMT

The European Lotteries (EL) has called for the establishment of a specific agency to fight match fixing in Europe which would incorporate sporting bodies, national governments, international organisations, licensed gaming operators and police forces.

Speaking at the first European Lotteries Sustainable Gambling Conference in the European Parliament on Tuesday, EL president Friedrich Stickler said that sport in Europe was “threatened by wide and deep networks working with criminal organisations and operating with complex techniques.”

“The time has come for all parties involved: sport, national governments, international organisations, the law-abiding gambling operators and the police forces to intensify our cooperation to fight match-fixing,” said Stickler. “EL and its members are the historic partners of sport, we have always been leading in the fight against match-fixing and I now call for the establishment of a specific agency that deals with these matters.”

Various gambling experts, sports commentators, athletes and EU decision-makers gathered in Brussels for the conference this week which was hosted by MEPs Hannu Takkula and Santiago Fisas Ayxelà in the European Parliament.

The conference aimed to address the current standing on match-fixing in Europe and discuss solutions to it while highlighting the role of lotteries in promoting the highest sports integrity standards and ensuring fair sports betting.

“While we must remember that most sport is absolutely positive, attacks upon the integrity of sport have increased in recent years,” said MEP Hannu Takkula (Finland, ALDE) when opening the conference: “As policy makers, we have made good progress, including tackling match fixing and illegal gambling; yet more needs to be done.

“We need seamless teamwork and all stakeholders, including governments, sports organisations and sports betting operators need to recognise that it is only collectively that we can build a credible defence against this threat.”

According to Pascal Boniface, founding director of IRIS (Paris-based Institute for International and Strategic Relations) who presented a white paper on match fixing, “regulation and supervision of the operators themselves is key.

“Poorly regulated environment creates higher risks of match fixing and are fertile grounds for fraud and money laundering.” Said Boniface.

His recommendations include improving procedures for identifying winners and requiring betting operators to draw up suspicious transaction reports.

Meanwhile, several panellists discussed concrete solutions to match fixing, with Pierre Delsaux, the European Commission deputy director-general for Internal Market and Services, stating that “the Commission is actively engaged in the ongoing negotiations of the Council of Europe on a Convention on the fight against the manipulation of sport results.”

“This is an important step as increased cooperation at European and international level of public and private organs (sport organisations, betting operators and supervisors, police and judicial authorities) is key to fight against match-fixing,” he said.

MEP Santiago Fisas Ayxelà (Spain, EPP) added: “Any measure at EU level should take the 'subsidiarity' principle into account, respect each Member State's rules and the autonomy of the different structures' governing sports.”

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