BITEFIX Collaborative Partnership directed to help tackling match-fixing in sport held its 4th transnational project meeting with all its partners at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium in Seville, Spain. Hosting a round table discussion on the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions with representatives from Sevilla FC, Andaluzian FA and Spain’s La Liga’s Integrity Director
The 4th transnational project meeting (TPM) of ERASMUS+ Sport’ BITEFIX project was held at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium in Seville, Spain. The Partnership analysed the results produced thus far – namely the Guide of Best Practices on the Fight Against Match-Fixing, available at bitefix.com –, evaluated the progress of the project and discussed different topics such as launch of the “Educational Program” and of the BITEFIX e-Community – “International Network of Experts on match-fixing and betting-fraud in sports”.
Lisbon’s based university ISCTE (leader of WP3) presented the Educational Program modules, the core of a comprehensive e-learning platform (IO2) and the Training Course on exchange of information and data protection to fight match- fixing. Sevilla FC Foundation, Estoril Praia FC, Lega Pro and Hask Mladost will be implementing this Program in the next few months.
Starlizard Integrity Services and Sorbonne University (leaders of WP4) presented the methodological strategy for the BITEFIX e-Community and its accessibility by the target groups, which was approved by the partnership.
The project’s main deliverables, marked for the next 8 months, with special focus on WP3 “Educational Program” and its e-learning platform, are:
- Launch of the BITEFIX Educational Program and e-learning as a capacity building tool.
- Implementation of Training Courses with key-stakeholders.
- Launch of the BITEFIX e-Community – “International Network of Experts on match-fixing and betting-fraud in sports” setting-up.
The eight modules encompass: Historical perspective of Match-fixing and betting in Sport; Contemporary betting and related fraud, crimes and illegal markets; Match-fixing and betting-fraud prevention at European and national level; Betting practices among sport actors; Trust building; Data protection and protected reporting systems; Exchange of information; and Whistle-blower protection in Sport: Lessons for an effective implementation of the European directive.
The BITEFIX’s 4th transnational meeting also hosted an high-level round table with all project partners and representatives from Sevilla FC, the Andaluzian Government and LA LIGA’s Sport Integrity Director, Florentino Villabona. Discussion focused on the experience aquired, from grassroots to high-level sport, in the fight against match-fixing, as well as in the common guidelines, tools and policy recommendations that should be further disseminated and adopted in order to preserve the values of sport and the fairness of sport’s competitions.
José María Cruz de Andrés, Director-General of FC Sevilla, opened the day to welcome the attendees and encourage them to continue working in Europe to further investigate matters relating to the phenomena, underlying the “importance of straight cooperation and long-term alliances to help fight match-fixing”.
In this occasion, Florentino Villabona, Director of Integrity at LaLiga, shared with the attendees the work that LaLiga has been carrying out for years in terms of prevention, monitoring and training, highlighting that in the last 3 years they have not identified cases of match-fixing neither in the first nor second division – in great part due to the implementation of monitoring and detection systems – adding that “sport organisations should not lower their arms and continue working to generate knowledge and raise awareness to ensure complete and continuous rejection by society of any type of manipulation of sports’ competitions”. Florentino also highlighted the importance of harmonizing legislation, improve the capability of making investigations, as well of continuous capacity building, along the setting up of Integrity Units and/or the designation of Integrity Officers.
Francisco Felner da Costa, Estoril Praia FC, added that “as a club that is invested in providing young athletes with the best education and strong life values, Estoril Praia is highly committed with the BITEFIX project. Estoril will implement and disseminate the educational programs for all their players and organizational structure and will continuously raise awareness against match-fixing in sports.”
Marcelo Moriconi, ISCTE University, underlined that “the integrity industry should not seek a mere defense of sport in terms of the market, economic variables, or protection of the betting market… sport must be defended and promoted for the social impact it has, which goes well beyond the merely economic elements”.
Bartolomé Cabello (Andaluzian Football Federation) highlighted the work that Sevilla FC has been doing for years, in the academy, in particular, to accompaign and capacitate the athletes and their families with dedicated training and education, underlying that the long term solutions depend on such work from the grassroot levels. “We need to continue working on the education side, to help prevent, detect and sanction misbehavior, focusing on parents’ responsibilities as agents of integrity”.
Luis Castro, Member of Sevilla FC Compliance Board, underlined that “Sport is key to the health of human beings, nowadays and in future. It will endure as such. Sport, as a product, sees a continuous growth, with clubs improving their stadiums, creating new services and new products to offer to the fans. In this sense, Sport must be preserved in its prestige, as a school of values to society and therefore we need to work together continuously to preserve its integrity”.
Pilar Morejón, Compliance officer at Sevilla FC, shared the club’s activity in the field and her views on the importance of reaching young players, the lower leagues and the amateurs levels, as the basis of sound sport’s development. In making so, “it’s essencial to use simple language, clear and straight forward Ethical Codes and rules, as well as comprehensive training modules, handbooks and simple tools, to move from theory to practice”.
Diogo Guia (ICSS INSIGHT), expressed the consortium gratitude to Sevilla FC Foundation for hosting the BITEFIX’s TPM and the high-level round-table, underlying that it demonstrates the commitment and concrete delivering of Sevilla FC in pushing for tangible measures to help the sporting system safeguarding its integrity.
Diogo further added that “we believe that’s fundamental to work top / bottom – with clear, simple, common and easy-to-understand and apply ruling (through all the pyramid of Sport) and bottom / up, with continued capacity building and training & education at all levels, regardless of the nature, size or economic impact of each sport.” Adding that “BITEFIX, and Erasmus projects in general, offer this unique opportunity of sharing knowledge, experience, and practices, in a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approach, building and strengthening networks to face common challenges and help the sporting system’s resilience against different integrity threats”.