The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game
Perhaps the most shocking thing about the revelation (at the Interpol/AFC Conference on match-fixing) that ‘match-manipulation’ is now a world-wide pandemic organized by international crime syndicates, was that not one of the 150 delegates were actually shocked. That’s a terrible indictment and simply illustrates how far the ‘cancer’ has spread.
It sickens me that sport, for it is not just football that is sadly afflicted, has become a target for the cowardly cheating parasites who seek to gain illicit and quick fortunes from something that honest people hold dear. At the heart of sport and fundamental to its essence, is purity of competition. Without it, sport is utterly worthless. Millions of decent people spend millions of dollars of hard-earned money to watch sport in the belief that they are witnessing something true, clean and genuine. The people that seek to undermine that principle are beneath contempt. If I didn’t find them repugnant and morally bankrupt, I would actually pity them.
The Conference concluded that only a concerted, global and coordinated response will combat this plague. Depressingly it is also clear that total eradication will be difficult, particularly in Asia.
There are many well-publicised and high profile cases involving the discovery and subsequent punishment of players, coaches, officials and administrators including some in Hong Kong! This is simply dealing with the symptom and not the cause, because the main perpetrators, the ‘fixers’ are never brought to justice. They evade retribution and disappear only to raise their despicable faces somewhere else. This is because most Governments have no specific laws relating to match-manipulation. Furthermore it is often seen as a victimless crime, and due to the use of global technology the offence is difficult to detect, and usually committed outside the local jurisdiction.
There is no room for complacency in Hong Kong, in fact quite the opposite. ‘Fixers’ often target ‘new’ Leagues and particularly in places where players, coaches and officials are seen as ‘vulnerable’ due to relatively low wage levels.
FIFA advocates a zero-tolerance approach and so must we. And not just in terms of the rhetoric we use. In my opinion, anyone found guilty of match-manipulation at any level must be severely sanctioned including life-time, world-wide bans from involvement in football. I will be making this recommendation as part of plans for the new Premier League. I will also be seeking the cooperation of the football community (clubs, players, officials etc) together with the Government, the ICAC, the Police and other stakeholders in upholding the integrity of football and stamping out the evil that threatens the game we love.------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ASIAN CONFERENCE ON INTEGRITY IN SPORT
Kuala Lumpur, 21 February 2013
‘Match-fixing: The ugly side of the beautiful game’
An international conference for representatives from national Asian Football Associations and law enforcement
A two-day international conference focusing upon enhancing the prevention and investigation of match-fixing in football was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 20 and 21 February 2013.
The conference was organized by INTERPOL within the framework of the INTERPOL-FIFA Training, Education and Prevention Initiative, with the active support of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA.
Some 170 delegates from more than 40 countries and 10 international organizations came together in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the threats posed to football by match-fixing and ways to further improve its prevention and investigation. Delegates included officials from international organizations including FIFA, AFC, FIFPro, SportAccord and INTERPOL, senior representatives from national football associations, players representatives, betting organizations and law enforcement.
During the conference, speakers looked at current and anticipated future trends in match-fixing, the impact development in betting markets are having, and the adverse influence organized crime has on football. In addition, ways of enhancing good governance in the football family, the importance of protecting players, and initiatives in training, education, prevention and investigation were highlighted.
The conference recognized the challenge posed by match-fixing in many countries in Asia. It noted with concern the involvement of organized crime and professional criminals in match-fixing and associated illegal activities, including irregular betting.
The conference also recognized that match-fixing is a global issue having a negative effect upon football, its participants and the general public who watch sport as an entertainment in the belief that it is a fair and honest game. Match-fixing is an ‘ugly side of the beautiful game’.
Delegates welcomed recent developments to tackle match-fixing in football, both internationally and nationally, and resolved to actively support the implementation of the INTERPOL training, education and prevention programme. Representatives from FIFA and AFC also underlined their zero-tolerance stands on match-fixing.
In addition, the importance of having internationally consistent legislation regarding ‘sporting fraud’ was identified. In this regard, delegates supported examining the development of the draft convention
on the manipulation of sports being prepared by the Council of Europe. Delegates also requested consideration of approaches to combat match-fixing at MINEPS V1 to be held in Berlin in May this year.
In order to tackle match-fixing more effectively, delegates supported:
The need to continue building effective partnerships between all the stakeholders who can contribute to the development of effective procedures at international and national levels (including football associations, law enforcement, gambling regulatory authorities, betting companies, players and referees associations and government departments);
The importance of establishing and using information-sharing mechanisms to identify what information is required, where it can be obtained, how it can be stored, analysed and disseminated in a timely way to enable the various stakeholders to use it effectively both to prevent and investigate match-fixing;
The development of coordination procedures, especially at the national level, to ensure that the best decisions can be made about who should take forward activities in the area of prevention and investigation of match-fixing, including the identification of national points of contact within all agencies;
The need to develop and implement a broad range of prevention activities through education, training and support to the various different participants in football (including players, officials and administrators), especially young players;
The importance of being proactive in both the prevention and investigation of match-fixing and irregular betting associated with football, in order to minimize its adverse effects on the game, its participants and the public.
In conclusion, delegates thanked those involved in the organization of the event and the Malaysian authorities for hosting this valuable conference.
1 World Sport Ministers Conference, Berlin, 28-30 May 2013, organized by UNESCO in cooperation with German Ministry of Interior
除此之外，有關立法監管「體育騙案」的重要性亦在會上提及，代表團表態支持由歐洲委員會(Council of Europe)草擬立例打擊非法操控球賽，同時與會代表亦考慮要求將這個議題在今年五月柏林舉行的MINEPS V1上進一步討論。
1 由UNESCO主辦、德國內政部(German Ministry f Interior)協辦的World Sport Ministers Conference將於2013年5月28至30日在柏林舉行。