Federbet: Match fixing in Europe has reached 'epidemic' proportions

Match fixing at sporting events in Europe has reached "epidemic" proportions, it has been claimed.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

15 Jun 2016

Federbet, a Brussels-based organisation that investigates illegal betting, also told a news conference on Tuesday the problem was a "virus" that had spread to major football tournaments such as the Champions League.

However, Francesco Baranca, Federbet secretary general, said there was no evidence the current European football championships in France had been affected.

"We have no evidence of that," he said.


The annual report of Federbet, which was set up by bookmakers, cites "examples" of alleged match fixing in various sports, including football, volleyball and tennis where, it says, the problem is particularly rife.

The football games where match fixing is suspected to have taken place include Serie A, the top league in Italy, and involve major teams such as former Champions League winners Milan and Napoli where Diego Maradona used to play.

One Italian club, Frosinone, is implicated in no less than five separate league games.

In each case, Federbet said the result is "suspected" to have been fixed by illegal betting. 

But matches in numerous other European countries are also cited, including Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Romania.

Baranca told this website that many of the suspicious games involved lower league clubs and that most of the illegal betting is believed to be based in Asia.

He said, "While it is true that lower league players are seen as being easier to corrupt, this problem also involves preliminary games for the Champions League and Europa Cup."

The Italian official said that players, agents and a "shadowy world" of criminal networks were all benefiting.

The report goes on, "But football is not the only sport that is popular among match manipulators. Our investigations have found an increase in cases of match fixing in other sports including tennis where the problem is endemic, basketball, volleyball, table tennis and hockey."

It says that matches have also been "distorted" in youth and women's sporting events.

Baranca also condemned the "passive" response of national sports authorities to such allegations.

In one case it says the federation of Croatian volleyball demanded a €5000 fee to investigate allegations of match fixing against a team from Croatia.

The 2016 report says "there is still hope for sport", citing the "League of Soccer" in Serie B in Italy - a competition hit by match fixing claims in the past - that had developed a plan for monitoring and training.

A new law against match fixing has also been enacted in Ukraine, another country heavily featured in Federbet's list of alleged match fixing.

Also speaking at the news conference, Italian Socialist MEP Elly Schlein, said, "Illegal sports betting and match fixing represent a real threat for legal economy and a serious challenge to the integrity, credibility, values and principles of sport competition. 

"Corruption may damage various sports, undermining participants and supporters' enthusiasm. Moreover, this phenomenon may result in huge losses for states in terms of revenues."

She added, "A coordinated action between sport federations, bookmakers, competent institutions and member states is needed in order to preserve the integrity of sport and fight against corruption and organised crime.

"There is a strong connection between these phenomena and the networks of organised crime. They cross national borders and move easily at a European level. A European response and coordinated actions involving EU institutions are needed." 

She said the global illegal sport betting market in 2015 was worth up €140bn and the scope of these illegal activities is growing with the development of new technologies. 

Parliament has recognised the issue of match-fixing and illegal sport betting in different resolutions, including last year with a resolution on the cases of high level corruption in Fifa.

Two years ago, a resolution urged the Commission to develop a common approach in order to fight against organised crime and match-fixing.

It also stressed the link between organised crime and match-fixing. 

The document encouraged the Commission to propose a legislative framework and effective instruments to curb the use of sports betting and match-fixing for money laundering. 

Schlein, Co-Chair of Parliament's intergroup on integration, transparency, corruption and organised crime, said match-fixing is one of the preferred instruments of organised crime for money laundering and other unlawful activities.

She said she was committed to "keep alive" discussion on match fixing and to investigate "effective instruments" to strongly oppose to match fixing and illegal sports betting.

The deputy has called for a European definition of sports fraud; common system of sanctions and the introduction of a European licences system for online betting in order to easily monitor the movement of cash within online gambling network in the EU and the creation of a unity specialised in the fight against match-fixing.

She said she also wants "deeper cooperation" at European level under the coordination of the Commission in order to identify the actors working in online gambling who are involved in match fixing.


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