Match-fixing: Issues and policy responses

05-04-2016

As sport has grown increasingly popular worldwide, it has become a greater target for individuals and groups of people wishing to take advantage of its lucrative aspects. A conservative Interpol estimate for the period 1 June 2012 to 31 May 2013 indicates that match-fixing – i.e. the manipulation of results of sporting contests, or elements within a game – has been reported in over 70 countries across six continents, for football alone. Globalisation has further aggravated the phenomenon, with transnational criminal organisations taking advantage of changes in regulations, and flaws in legal and judicial systems. Various sports have been affected by match-fixing, even though most cases occur in cricket, football, and tennis. Contests are not always rigged by individual players or referees; some cases involve coaches, club managers, and more unexpectedly, maintenance staff. Match-fixing is often linked to gambling, with criminal networks exploiting unregulated gambling markets, notably in Asia. In the EU, the Framework Decisions on combatting corruption and the fight against organised crime underpin the operational work carried out by Europol and Eurojust. However, their provisions are still insufficiently well enacted by EU countries. The impact of international legal instruments, such as the United Nations and Council of Europe conventions, is also limited, since their provisions are not mandatory. In this context, the International Olympic Committee, due to its political, social and sporting authority, appears as a key factor in the continuing fight against manipulation in sport.

As sport has grown increasingly popular worldwide, it has become a greater target for individuals and groups of people wishing to take advantage of its lucrative aspects. A conservative Interpol estimate for the period 1 June 2012 to 31 May 2013 indicates that match-fixing – i.e. the manipulation of results of sporting contests, or elements within a game – has been reported in over 70 countries across six continents, for football alone. Globalisation has further aggravated the phenomenon, with transnational criminal organisations taking advantage of changes in regulations, and flaws in legal and judicial systems. Various sports have been affected by match-fixing, even though most cases occur in cricket, football, and tennis. Contests are not always rigged by individual players or referees; some cases involve coaches, club managers, and more unexpectedly, maintenance staff. Match-fixing is often linked to gambling, with criminal networks exploiting unregulated gambling markets, notably in Asia. In the EU, the Framework Decisions on combatting corruption and the fight against organised crime underpin the operational work carried out by Europol and Eurojust. However, their provisions are still insufficiently well enacted by EU countries. The impact of international legal instruments, such as the United Nations and Council of Europe conventions, is also limited, since their provisions are not mandatory. In this context, the International Olympic Committee, due to its political, social and sporting authority, appears as a key factor in the continuing fight against manipulation in sport.