Various studies have shown that the prevalence of match-fixing in sports may be declining on a global level. However, it still exists, especially in soccer and tennis, and FIFA and the United Nations (UN) are taking a leading role in stopping it.
The UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and FIFA have completed their first international integrity education program. The Global Integrity Programme (GIP) supports the soccer organization’s 211 member associations in their efforts to combat match-fixing.
The two entities, with FIFA taking the lead, launched the program in March of last year. Since then, over 400 representatives from governments and soccer federations from around the world have helped further the efforts.
Bringing an End to Match-Fixing
While it seems as though there is overwhelming support to rid sports of corruption, there will always be those who only care about their wallets. On occasion, these people, such as some of those in the South African Football Association, make identifying them easy.
On other occasions, it’s not so simple. Therefore, education is key to uncovering corruption and ensuring integrity in sports. To that end, FIFA and UNODC have conducted 29 workshops covering a number of key topics over the past year. These include creating an integrity campaign at the local level, reporting, protection of competition and cooperation between FIFA members and law enforcement.
Corruption and cheating have no place in our societies, and certainly no place in the world’s most popular sport. Through the Global Integrity Programme, FIFA and UNODC have made a real impact in advancing integrity in football,” said Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director.
The GIP has held workshops for all six of FIFA’s confederations. These include the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Confederation of Football of North America, Central America and the Caribbean (Concacaf), the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
Sports Analyst Offers Solution
FIFA and UNODC began laying the foundation for the GIP in 2020. At the time, they saw it as a solution to jointly achieve their own goals. FIFA could use it as a catalyst to increase interest in soccer, while the UN could help governments and sports organizations reduce corruption.
As important and promising as the GIP is, Dave Purdum of ESPN recently offered a possible solution to end match-fixing. Speaking at the SBCAmericas conference last month, he hinted that sportsbooks quit offering lines.
Studies have shown that an overwhelming majority of match-fixing occurs in the lower levels of sports. This is because they typically fly under the radar of regulators and integrity officials.
If sports betting operators don’t offer odds on those contests, there’s no reason for players or officials to throw them, according to Purdum. However, Jake Williams, PointsBet’s senior VP of strategy and operations, isn’t so sure.
He asserted that bettors would head to illegal sportsbooks to find the lines. As a result, the cycle would continue or get worse. Therefore, absent a utopian betting society, fighting corruption and match-fixing to reduce them as much as possible is the only solution.