In a joint-article published by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Svenska Spel CEO Patrick Hofbauer and Swedish FA (SvFF) General Secretary Håkan Sjöstrand have called for an immediate overhaul of Sweden’s ‘match-fixing council’.
The Swedish government established its match-fixing council on 1 January 2019, coinciding with the launch of Sweden’s re-regulated online gambling marketplace.
The council was earmarked as a key agency supporting a new era for Swedish gambling laws whilst also helping maintain public safety through sports integrity.
Sweden’s council was spearheaded by Swedish gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen, in participation with the country’s federal police force, justice agencies and numerous government departments.
Despite its high-profile ranks, Hofbauer and Sjöstrand state that two-years on from its formation, the council has been transformed into a zombie agency, unable to deliver any safeguards on integrity protections.
The executives, who have participated in meetings, detailed that the council has failed outright on its founding objective of improving coordination between stakeholders on the complexities of tackling match-fixing.
“Leading the match-fixing council in the fight against manipulation in sports must involve full focus on concrete measures to achieve the goals. As the Spelinspektionen does not interpret its assignment in this way, the council functions more as a discussion forum than as a task force,” the article stated.
The executives stated their disbelief, that the council had not yet implemented any form of ‘national process’ to instantly report on suspicious match-fixing or wagering activities between parties.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand stated that Swedish Social Minister Ardalan Shekarabi, the architect of Sweden’s new gambling laws, should be made aware of the council’s failure in which ‘the work against match-fixing has lost its focus and energy’.
The article implores Swedish agencies to recognise and adopt an international framework for combating match-fixing, in which Hofbauer and Sjöstrand state that Sweden has neglected its duties by not signing up to the ‘Council of Europe Convention against Manipulation in Sport’.
As representatives of Swedish betting and football, Hofbauer and Sjöstrand underline that the European Convention has established clear structures and stakeholder commitments on how to form a national platform upholding sports integrity – in which 51 countries have successfully participated in co-sharing data, knowledge and information.
At present, Sweden acts as the only Scandinavian country not to participate in the European Convention’s integrity schemes: “We now have, among others, companies from Malta, Turkey and Romania among the countries that have not yet signed the convention,” they said.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand concluded: “The council against match-fixing has been active for almost two years but has not yet become the powerful tool against match-fixing that we both believed and hoped for.”
“Remember that match-fixing is not an innocent little crime, it is a crime that not only poses a threat to sports but also to society at large as a source of funding for criminal networks.”