By Fred Lord, Director Anti-Corruption & Transparency Operations at the ICSS
“By far the biggest threat to sport remains the failure to effectively regulate sport betting. It is essential to legalise, regulate and enforce.” said Fred Lord, ICSS Director of Anti-Corruption and Transparency Operations (Sport Integrity) at The Future of Football International Congress in Lisbon, Portugal. Joining a panel entitled The Worst in Football – and how to tackle it, Lord, an international expert in the fight against corruption with close to 30 years’ experience in the field, spoke about the global challenges facing the sport; from match fixing and money laundering, to nefarious club ownership and illegal child transfers, he set out a bleak future for football unless collective action is taken. Lord also noted that monopoly within the industry needed to be reduced in order to enhance accountability and transparency.
“The game has never been so popular and commercially successful, but, at the same time, it has never been so vulnerable and exposed to threats. With 11 million Euros per minute poured into the sport betting industry on certain football matches, coupled with gaps in regulatory and governance oversight and cross-border information sharing, organised crime is being allowed to prosper.
“Pleasingly there are a number of significant legal instruments currently in force to help mitigate these threats, including amendments to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to incorporate sport integrity. But change within the industry needs to be driven from the top with strong, effective leadership and collective action.
“That is why the ICSS has established a dedicated Sport Integrity Unit. By working hand in hand with clubs, federations, law enforcement and government agencies we are determined to plug the gaps that are elevating the risk of corruption. Our Sport Integrity Hotline, established last December, offers 24-7 access in 220+ languages for people to confidentially report misconduct in sport. We have already seen, in the short time the hotline has been active, a definite need for this service and our investigations unit currently has 18 active cases we are following up.”
Lord added that child trafficking and child smuggling under the guise of sport was another critical issue that needed to be addressed. Not only for the welfare of the child, who may be abandoned without support and heath care in a foreign country, but in terms of national security, when accompanied with false travel documents.
Also speaking at the congress was ICSS INSIGHT CEO Emanuel Macedo de Madeiros, who made a key note address calling on the football community to fight collectively to protect the values and integrity of the sport.
“The future of football only makes sense if it is based on solid principles and firm values. Fans deserve a game that lives up to expectations.”