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A Swansea expert in the ethics of sport has been helping to spearhead international efforts to tackle match-fixing and illegal/irregular betting, at a major UN-led conference bringing together sports bodies and legal experts, with speakers ranging from Europol investigators to a former Premier League footballer.
Professor Mike McNamee of Swansea University Research Centre in Applied Sports, Technology, Exercise and Medicine (A-STEM) contributed to a high level a session on the ethics of data sharing between agencies such as sport governing bodies, and national and international investigators, who increasingly find themselves needing to work together to combat what is a global problem.
The sums involved are huge: illegal sports gambling was recently estimated to have an economic value of £320 billion a year.
Hence the need for concerted international action, which was the focus of the conference, held in Qatar and organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS).
In the wake of the conference, the UNODC and ICSS announced plans to strengthen cross-border investigations and prosecutions relating to match-fixing and the manipulation of sports competitions, looking at areas such as:
• Cooperation between national authorities and the private sector
• Effective investigation means/techniques
• Seizure and confiscation
• Lifting of bank secrecy
• Protection of whistle-blowers
• Mutual legal assistance
• Liability of legal persons
• Enhancing and/or creating legislation around the manipulation of sports competitions, including match fixing across all sports
Professor Mike McNamee of Swansea University said:
"Matchfixing and corruption are exceptionally serious and growing problems, with links to the world of organised crime.
Sports betting is not new. It is probably as old as sport itself. Nor does it lead necessarily to corruptive practices. We know that gambling interests were connected with the rise of rules for fair play so that contests could not be fixed in advance.
But if we are to tackle matchfixing effectively, international collaboration and a systematic approach between the betting industry, sports federations, educational providers, and law enforcement agencies is essential. The Qatar conference was a very important step towards achieving these goals."
Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, said:
“The threat of organised crime and how it now uses match-fixing, corruption and illegal betting are issues that sport, law enforcement and government cannot shy away from. They are transnational problems that affect every level of society.
Working with UNODC Member States and in conjunction with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), this partnership with one of the world’s leading experts in sport integrity will provide investigators and prosecutors at the front-line with the right tools and resources to combat match-fixing, as well as organised crime’s growing involvement in sport."
The field of ethics in sport encompasses not only match-fixing but also issues such as corruption, homophobia and child welfare. Professor McNamee says that current arrangements for addressing problems such as these can be too fragmented to be effective. In his view, a systematic approach is needed not only for stamping out match-fixing but right across the field of ethics in sport.
- Monday 18 May 2015 09.59 BST
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