The anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI), the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the German Football League (DFL) have joined forces on an 18 month project to help prevent match-fixing through education and awareness-raising.
With the exponential rise in globalised on-line betting, which is estimated to be worth more than $700 billion annually, this pioneering programme aims to safeguard the integrity of sporting competitions and the reputation of the game against the threats of match-fixing , especially related with sports betting.
Called Staying on Side, the aim of the project is to develop educational and prevention programmes and materials that can be used by the football leagues across Europe to address all target groups including young players, professionals, and match officials. It will draw on the experience gained through a project, organised by the DFL and the German Football Association (DFB), in collaboration with Transparency International Germany and the German Health Agency (BZgA) as well as the Professional Footballs Player Union (VdV).
A two-day workshop in Berlin last week brought together experts on the fight against sports betting related match fixing, anti-corruption work, gambling and representatives from a number of European Football Leagues to discuss the role of education in preventing match-fixing.
“An organisation such as Transparency International, which has experience in helping people say no to corruption, can offer support to those in football who have to come to grips with difficult situations. We believe strongly that education and awareness-raising are key to helping solve the problem of match-fixing,” said Sylvia Schenk, senior advisor for sport at Transparency International.
“The EPFL and our Leagues are committed to ensure that our game remains clean from the threats posed by match-fixing and unrestricted and unregulated sports betting. Our members have been implementing and even further developing the measures and best practice recommendations foreseen in the EPFL Code of Conduct on Sports Betting Integrity, and they start with prevention and education. We want to make sure that all key participants in the game – from the youngsters to professional players, including referees, managers and football administrators – are aware and understand fully the risks and dangers, so that incidents of match-fixing, namely those associated with sports betting, can be better prevented. That’s also what this pilot project is all about.” said Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of the EPFL.
“At the DFL we strongly believe that education and training especially of younger players is a key element of prevention. We want to create a clear understanding and awareness about the dangers and consequences of match-fixing and gambling addiction in order to protect the players and to improve the fight against match-fixing. Our prevention project, part of which is the appointment of an independent Ombudsman, is a contribution to safeguard the integrity and the credibility of our sport. We are very happy that we can develop it further together with our partners TI and EPFL and with other football leagues in Europe,” said Jürgen Paepke, head of the legal department of DFL.
Transparency International is the global anti-corruption organisation with more than 100 partner organisations across the world. The TI chapters involved in the project are in the following countries: Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal and United Kingdom.