Chris Eaton, Director of Sport Integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security
Published: 09 Apr 2013
On issues surrounding credibility and match fixing in sport....
On what can be done to resolve corruption in sport...
The biggest issue [in sport today] is its credibility - the credibility of the competition and whether it's honest and clean or not. This is an enormous challenge that has been manifesting itself over the last five years and is a grave situation for sport and in particular football. So what sport organisations need to do is find a way in which they can restore the confidence of the fan and those who are a bit disenfranchised and renew their confidence in the authenticity of what they're seeing.
What's really happened is over the last ten years is that gambling has changed enormously world-wide. So now you've got international gambling taking place, [...] the gamblers are coming from around the world and using internet, SMS and other forms of communication to bet on games anywhere in the world, anytime in the world. There is a massive amount of money involved. Of course, organised crime thinks this is fantastic and is finding ways to manipulate sport to commit betting fraud. Betting fraud is the main concern here and from this the modern-day match fixing is born. It's been adopted by organised crime very aggressively.
Right now sport recognises that it's got a problem. The major players are talking regularly about the need for football to address match fixing and corruption in the sport. But in fact what this fails to address is the gambling side of the equation - what causes and funds match fixing. This is what organised crime is going to sport for - not because they're interesting in corrupting sport necessarily. They're interested in corrupting sport to commit betting fraud. Governments are not regulating national gambling and that's the problem. It's not sport's solution, it's a government solution. Governments are reluctant because primarily it's South East Asia activity and they're reluctant to take on the big powers in these regions.
What has to be done and what must be done is that there needs to be a global recognition of gambling on sport. It shouldn't be banned and countries reserve the right to ban gambling on their own shores, but this is international global activity. The world of nations must get together collectively and provide a framework for gambling on sport to be regulated properly. This will inhibit match fixing. If you stop the money flow to organised crime through betting fraud, you'll stop match fixing.
I think you've got to recognise and many fail to recognise that sport is business. It might operate like a club and some may think it still is a club, but the reality is that international sport is a business. Internationally, gambling is a business. What we need is good business principles and good international oversight.