In September 2011 the first-ever UEFA Integrity Officers’ workshop took place at UEFA headquarters with a stark warning from UEFA President Michel Platini about the dangers of match-fixing in football.
“Football, like most sporting disciplines, is in mortal danger,” Mr Platini said. “The very essence of our sport is based on the integrity of results, from school sport up to the World Cup. Obviously, the credibility of every competition is affected. If the dice are loaded, what is the point of taking part or getting enthusiastic?” he said.
“Today, there is not a week that goes by without newspaper headlines which speak of a suspicion, an inquiry or an arrest linked to the integrity of our competitions. Nevertheless, I refuse to resign myself vis-a-vis this mortal danger, and I know that the entire football family is ready to counterattack.”
Earlier this year, UEFA’s Executive Committee approved a report by its betting/match-fixing working group, which proposed measures that European football should take to address the threat of match-fixing – including the setting up of a network of Integrity Officers at European level.
As well as acting as liaison officers for cooperation between the football authorities and state law enforcement agencies in relation to suspected match-fixing, Integrity Officers will exchange information and experience with the UEFA administration regarding the prosecution of corrupt or criminal practices affecting football. They will monitor disciplinary proceedings and coordinate relevant action, as well as organising educational programmes for players, referees and coaches as part of an effective preventative strategy.
UEFA will make annual funds available to each national member association to help finance the position of Integrity Officer. UEFA’s own Integrity Officer will work alongside their national counterpart, supporting the operation of the network and overseeing intelligence gathering and information exchange and experience.
FIFA’s response to match fixing
In May 2011 football’s world governing body, FIFA, pledged 20 million euros ($27.6 million) over 10 years to Interpol to help fight corruption in the sport.
In October of this year FIFA announced it will offer financial rewards and amnesty for information on match-fixing and other corruption in the sport. Chris Eaton, the organisation’s security chief said: “This is new ground for sport. I’m afraid criminals have changed the nature of sport.” Eaton estimated that soccer gambling totals $1.4 trillion a year – and as much as $1.4 billion can be placed on a single Premier League match alone.
Eaton said at the Professional Players Federation conference in October: “We’re going to have a rewards programme for one month from January, followed then by a hotline and amnesty programme probably for three months, all managed independently.
“This will then be followed by an assessment programme, followed by some sort of amnesty for the players who have been unfairly compromised, and there’ll be rehabilitation for those players.”
Eaton said not all rewards would be financial and complete immunity cannot be offered to whistleblowers, as FIFA cannot guarantee immunity from criminal prosecution.