It’s been a while since I posted. The death of my daughter seemed to diminish my interest. But doing my keynote speech at the Milan workshop on Match-fixing in the famous Palazzo Marino last week raised so many issues that I thought I just should say something more about it. The workshop was attended from across Europe by politicians, representatives of policing organisations like Interpol, Gambling Commissions, groups who watch for problematic betting movements, and sports organisations like the IOC or the Bundesliga.
The general view was that now that on-line betting has expanded so hugely globally, and that criminal organisations are adopting a business model, fixing results across many sports, at many levels and across the world, match-fixing is now the most important issue for sport to address. It will damage public trust in sporting results, and eventually reduce crowds. It will drive away commercially important sponsors if we fail to reduce its current level quickly.
So the Convention against the manipulation of sporting competitions needs to be signed up to by as many countries as possible, and far more action taken against it.
For me the lessons that came out of this workshop were
1. History tells us that match fixing can never be eliminated entirely, but we can reduce its level.
2. The involvement of governments and crime agencies is critical, and is happening increasingly.
3. Integrity education and training for players and officials is important and becoming more widespread.
4. We need to put sport’s own house in order too, especially at the club level, where many clubs in the past have tried to avoid relegation or achieve cup success or promotion by unfair means, and develop more discipline at all levels.
5. We need better research data than we have at present.
6. Governments, sport organisations and police need to work more together. Interested parties need more inter-connectivity, better communication, and an improved consistency of approach.
7. Like drug-use in sport, match-fixing will continue to change its targets, its methodology and its locations. We need to be proactive, not reactive.