Berlin, Nyon, Frankfurt, 14 August 2014 – The anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI), the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the German Football League (DFL) teamed up to fight match-fixing in football. Their project “Staying on Side: How to Stop Match-fixing” was one of six pilot projects, co-funded by the European Commission.
The project included representatives from Transparency International chapters and professional football leagues in Germany (Bundesliga), Greece (Super League), Italy (Lega Serie B), Lithuania, (basketball and non-EPFL football clubs), Portugal (LPFP), and the United Kingdom (Premier League, Football League, Scottish Professional Football League) and participation by leagues in Norway (Toppfotball) and Poland (Ekstraklasa), under the overall coordination of the EPFL.
The growth of the global betting market and the potential gains from gambling and money laundering associated with betting has made football a target for organised crime. This puts players, officials and all those involved with football at risk. The emergence of match-fixing as a serious threat to the integrity of football has prompted responses from both inside and outside the sport.
Over the past 18 months, the project partners have implemented comprehensive prevention programmes in several European countries, summarised in a resource booklet available in several languages (English, Greek, Italian, Lithuanian and Portuguese).
The activities in the participating countries ranged from research and fact-finding on preventing match-fixing, to publishing information and training materials. The project also hosted workshops and events for different target groups including players, coaches and sports officials to raise awareness about the different aspects of match-fixing and how to prevent it.
There were 46 workshops, round tables and other events were attended by more than 1,300 people (players, coaches, sport officials, journalists, students and other stakeholders) and the project trained 102 people to become future trainers.
A key learning from the project is that whistleblower systems are critical to support those who want to report match-fixing approaches or need advice of how to handle difficult situations. Leagues in Germany, Austria and Scotland have already implemented such systems and other leagues such as the Italian Serie B have committed to establish them.
Frédéric Thiriez, President, Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) said, “As the common voice of the European Leagues, the EPFL is strongly committed to use all its power and influence to ensure that the integrity of our Leagues’ competitions is fully preserved. We are honoured to work with Transparency International since we believe that prevention and education are fundamental instruments to eradicate match-fixing from our sport.”
Among the EPFL Member Leagues, the German Football League (DFL) is one of the pioneers in this area of work and it provided critical support during the implementation of the project.
Christian Seifert, Chief Executive of the DFL said, “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 combat match-fixing.”
Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director, Transparency International said, “We strongly believe awareness-raising and education are key to tackling the problem of match-fixing. As an anti-corruption organisation with experience helping people say no to corruption, Transparency International can offer support to those in football who have to come to grips with risky situations.”
The next stage will be to further disseminate the materials and experiences from the project and to continue these and support efforts to address the problem of match-fixing in football and other sports.