Will match fixing meet its match?
Reputation is everything in sport. If there is the slightest hint of foul play then consumer confidence disappears overnight.
First appearing in GI Friday online publication in February 2016, this article was written by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission's Executive Director, Jorn Starck.
Who can ignore the investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, the non-compliance of Kenyan and Russian athletes with the World’s Anti-Doping Agency and alleged match-fixing in world tennis?
Reputation is everything in sport. If there is the slightest hint of foul play then consumer confidence disappears overnight. The fans that turn out dutifully on rain-soaked terraces in February or regularly enjoy an honest flutter will keep hold of their hard-earned wages. After all who wants to watch or bet on a competition where the result is a foregone conclusion?
In early 2014, the IOC and FIFA both entered into Memoranda of Understanding with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. Our hugely respected organisation’s main objective is to provide a regulatory environment for the eGambling industry that meets world-class standards.
Why would such powerful global sports authorities be interested in co-operating with an internet focused regulator? The international media has expressed a growing concern about online betting’s reputational impact on sport. Surprisingly, although a small island between England and France, transmits more internet eGambling traffic than any other location on the globe. Through Alderney the IOC and FIFA gain access to a large proportion of the millions of betting transactions that take place over the internet every day. By applying sophisticated analytical software tools, early trends can be detected that can pinpoint suspicious activity, such as event-rigging or match-fixing.
It is early days but the indications are that prompt and visible action by relevant authorities can serve as an effective deterrent for future fraud attempts by criminals worldwide.
IOC and FIFA have realised that multi-jurisdictional co-operation is the key to effective prevention of corruption and the AGCC has agreements with a large number of regulators all over the world and has acted as an advisor to law-making entities in other jurisdictions.
We have worked with Great Britain’s Gambling Commission as well as gaming regulatory bodies around the world in connection with probity, due diligence investigations and international best practice. The Commission also works closely with non-gaming regulators.
Match fixing can occur as a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. The most common reason for this action is in exchange for a payoff from gamblers.
Before the Sochi winter Olympic Games and World Cup in Brazil the IOC and FIFA realised that they needed to co-ordinate their fight by getting closer to the actual sports betting action. The AGCC with its contacts and reputation was the perfect doorway into the gamblers’ world. The agreement between AGCC and FIFA includes the exchange of relevant betting information about odds movements and suspicious football incidents.
The British government and Parliament have also recognised the importance of robust action against match-fixing. Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Chairman of the AGCC, conducted an exhaustive investigation into match-fixing and the improper use of inside information, with a view to protecting the integrity of sports and sports betting.
For the moment, the close coordination of existing mechanisms seems to be the preferred way, together with a potential effort to harmonise criminal law relating to sports. Time will tell if these measures are sufficient to tackle the challenges of match-fixing and corruption in sport but the AGCC is determined to be playing its part.