The Union of European Football Association, or UEFA, is working hard to find a solution to the increasing issue of match-fixing. A recent post by UEFA, the world’s largest Soccer league, invited all interested persons or organisations to tender for the role of conducting a feasibility study that would determine methods for increasing Soccer’s ability to expose and prosecute rigged games.
Why Fixing Happens
Athletes and teams throw their games or races for various reasons. They may want to come up against weaker opponents in the future, or to get a better draft pick. Most commonly, the motivation is gambling. Referees and players or racers might be paid off by bettors or even sportsbooks to play badly and lose an event that they were expected to win.
The involvement of gambling in fixing activities has even led some countries and unions to ban sportsbook sponsorship of major teams and tournaments. In the United States, there have also been efforts to charge bookmakers an “integrity fee”. This fee would be used to pay for the measures and administration needed to keep sporting operations clean.
Stronger Anti-Rigging Measures Needed
Match-fixing has been a problem in many sports for several years, but appears to be increasing exponentially in European Soccer. Various combative measures have been put in place by different countries, such as a Spanish governmental investigation into the creation of a dedicated Soccer industry regulatory commission. The investigation was decided upon in July, when Spain discussed the issue in legislative chambers.
In Germany, the Bundesliga recently renewed its partnership with Sportradar in an attempt to deal with game throwing activities. However, these efforts by individual countries are not believed to be enough to combat Soccer match-fixing which has now reached global proportions. As UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said when announcing the invitation to tender, more aggressive anti-rigging steps must be taken.
Collectively and individually, Čeferin continued, the UEFA community at large had not done enough to combat fixing. He stressed that cooperation with governments is essential at this time, because of the need to properly prosecute each case. Governments also have wider jurisdictions that UEFA, he added, so they can tap phones, pass prison sentences and take other decisive actions that the Football Association simply cannot. At this stage, stronger measures and the participation of all UEFA countries is vital.
Details of the Tender Offer
The new UEFA tender offer is open to any entity that is able to complement existing anti-match-fixing structures. These bodies include the Macolin Convention, a multilateral treaty signed by the Council of Europe to prevent, detect and punish results rigging and game throwing in any sport, along with ICPO-Interpol, EUROPOL and other groups.
The candidate that ultimately wins the tender will need to have the capacity to respond to some specific key issues as they produce the study. These issues include details of the problems facing the Soccer industry in Europe, as they relate to match-fixing. The successful applicant will also need to consult with various experts and stakeholders to help them identify structures and create benchmarks that would address the challenges of preventing fixing.
In the words of Čeferin, the study will look at how to bring “the different actors” on the anti-rigging stage together. This will ensure that they work in partnership and not isolation to tackle what the UEFA President described as “one of the biggest threats” to professional sport integrity. With many of the computer servers required to deal with modern game and race throwing located thousands of kilometres from Europe, the collaboration of all “actors” is especially important