Thorbjørn Jagland

Council of Europe adopts convention on match fixing

Thorbjørn Jagland
Thorbjørn Jagland

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.

In what’s being hailed as ‘a significant step in the fight against organised crime and unethical behaviour in sport’,  47 member states of the Council of Europe have adopted a new “Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions”.

“This new international agreement represents a major step forward in safeguarding the integrity of sport and sports ethics,” said the Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, while the Committee of Ministers adopted a Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions.

The purpose of this 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.

The Convention calls on governments to adopt measures, including legislation, notably:

  • 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.

Sports organisations and competition organisers are also required to adopt and implement stricter rules to combat corruption, sanctions and proportionate disciplinary and dissuasive measures in the event of offences, as well as good governance principles.

The Convention also provides safeguards for informants and witnesses.

Due to its worldwide scope, the Convention shall be opened for signature by member states and non-member states of the Council of Europe on the occasion of a ministerial conference organised on 18 September at Macolin in Switzerland.

The big success from the industry’s perspective has been the removal of the ‘sports’ betting right’ from the text. ESSA’s Khalid Ali explained: “The industry has worked hard over the last couple of years to work constructively with policymakers on the Council of Europe’s proposed text, most notably including the removal of the promotion of a sports’ betting right, an approach which has been widely criticised by a recent report for the European Commission. This has not been easy to accomplish given the staunch position taken by some stakeholders, however, it was one of our red lines and we managed to push it through.”

For more of Ali’s comments on the convention, click here.

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