A new report by Europol has called for private and public bodies to collaborate to tackle corruption in sports. Europol has urged match-fixing to be treated as a criminal activity and not as a failing to uphold integrity.
Europol Outlines Action Against Match-Fixing
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known as Europol, has issued a new report urging for better collaboration between private and public industry leaders to help tackle match-fixing in sports.
According to a new report published on August 5 and entitled “The Involvement of Organized Crime Groups in Sports Corporation,” tackling fraud in sports and adjacent crimes, such as money laundering would depend on a global collaborative push, the agency noted.
To comprise the report, Europol backed its numbers on data from Sportradar, a leading authority on sports data as well as security and integrity solutions in the sports betting sector. Based on that Sportradar data, estimated $141 million worth of match-fixing transpires every year.
That, though, is just a preliminary assessment, with criminal syndicates probably laundering millions more as the result of match fixing. Organized crime groups, the report said, were working on a transitional level to make sure that they succeed.
Targeting Smaller Events
However, crime groups are also smart. They do not target big competitions where Sportradar and other integrity organizations have their biggest focus. Rather, they try to focus on smaller events and sport match-fixing.
According to Europol, officials in such competitions are far more likely to accept kickbacks and participate in fraudulent activities due to poor remuneration in the first place. Another factor is the lack of scrutiny, as most low-key leagues and events are handled internally, and it’s easier to find more people willing to abet corruption.
One particular segment of the report, outlined tennis as one of the most likely sports to succumb to corruption:
“Incidents of match-fixing in tennis have increased in recent years. In 2016, only about 11 matches were suspected of being manipulated. This number jumped all of the way up to 236 contests the following year. Most of the time, match-fixing is separate from the betting; bets are usually placed on in-play markets.”
New Markets Pose Risk, Everyone Should Work Together
Interestingly, Europol explained that sports betting activities become legal in various locations around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, and especially the United States. Crime groups also steal identities and use them to open payment methods online as well as accounts on bookies.
However, match-fixing, according to Europol shouldn’t be considered as specific failings to enforce integrity in sports. Rather, it’s a criminal offense carried out by organized criminal groups and should be pursued with the full severity of the law, the agency said.
One way to facilitate law enforcement’s work, however, is to make more private and public sectors involved in sports and sports betting collaborate with each other. That includes but isn’t limited to relevant judicial authorities, sports betting firms, sports leagues, and various law enforcement agencies designed to tackle fraud in sports and preserve the integrity of the contests.
Previously, it transpired that Wirecard, a promising German Fintech, had facilitated payments for an online casino connected with the Italian mafia. Match-fixing has also spilled over to video gaming as well, with six players threatened with 10 years in prison for fixing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive games.