World sport 'must tackle big business of match fixing'

Stefano Mauri (r) in action against Inter Milan Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, who has been suspended for nine months for failing to report knowledge of match fixing

The marriage of sport and gambling, once a commercial match seemingly made in heaven, is facing some tough questions as corruption scandals continue to rock officials, players and fans.

Cricket, snooker and football are among the sports that have been seen to be susceptible to manipulation and match fixing.

Indeed, in the past few weeks new stories have surfaced about football match-fixing scandals in Italy, Austria and South Africa.

There is an urgent need to find ways of staying ahead of increasingly tech-savvy global criminals.

"International sport is in serious trouble with match fixing, which is a facilitating crime for a bigger crime, namely betting fraud," says Chris Eaton, director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

It is a Qatar-based organisation that aims to be "a global hub of security, safety and integrity expertise" for sport.

'Greedy people'

"Match fixing is big business, and financially lucrative. It has become the new game for organised crime internationally," says Mr Eaton, former head of security for Fifa, the world football governing body.

In a lifelong career in law enforcement he has also been a federal agent in his native Australia, and worked for Interpol, the international crime-busting organisation.

The 61-year-old says that while match fixing for sporting reasons such as promotion and relegation still occurs, this has been overtaken by "greedy people" looking to make millions from gambling coups.

Chris Eaton Chris Eaton has a long career in crime prevention and detection

He points out that whereas gambling is well regulated in markets such as Europe, in other places - such as China, South East Asia and India - there are major problems with the large, lucrative but unregulated gambling industries.

As well as being unpoliced, the unregulated market also takes bets that regulated bookmakers do not - either because of the amounts being gambled, or because the bet seems crooked.

Mr Eaton says that in India up to 2bn euros (£1.67bn; $2.7bn) can be gambled on major Test match cricket games, such as against Parkistan, and some 1bn euros can be wagered on major Indian Premier League cricket games - all totally illegally.

China's illegal gambling market

Ladbrokes, one of the UK's largest regulated betting operators, says it is one tenth of the size of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).

The HKJC provides horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment in Hong Kong.

In turn, the HKJC is one tenth the size of the illegal Chinese gambling market.

Source: Ladbrokes/World Sports Law Report

And he says the black (illegal) and grey (unregulated) gambling markets in South East Asia are among the biggest and most sophisticated in the world, where betting is not just a cash business but one that uses websites and, increasingly, mobile and social platforms.

At the same time, the issue is becoming increasingly global.

Mr Eaton says policing operations into match fixing usually focus on gaining a prosecution in the country where an offence takes place, and do not address the worldwide nature of most sports betting fraud, which is usually planned and financed in a totally different part of the globe.

A local approach is not much use, he says, if match fixing is organised in Singapore, affects a game played in Hungary and the betting fraud is carried out in Australia.

"Strictly national policies, or investigations carried out in one linguistic or cultural sphere, can never catch up with international crime," he told delegates at a World Sports Law Report seminar into sport and gambling.

"It takes two to four years to follow these crimes, and by then those involved have got their money and are gone."

Sponsor pullout

Meanwhile, the impact of match fixing goes beyond hitting a sport's reputation and the income of legitimate bookmakers.

South Africa has been in the spotlight for the past three years over football match-fixing allegations surrounding a series of friendly games they played before hosting the 2010 World Cup.

 Buhle Mkhwanazi follows the ball during the Nelson Mandela Sports & Culture Day in Soweto Puma, the German kitmaker, has dropped its backing for South Africa

These include the 5-0 win over Guatemala and a 2-1 victory over Colombia in May 2010, where three penalties were awarded in each match. Last week Fifa's ethics committee prosecutor opened an investigation into the allegations.

As a result of the claims South Africa's kitmaker sponsor, the German company Puma, has ended its financial relationship with the country's football association, whose new president Danny Jordaan says revenues have dropped from $80m in 2010 to $20m this year as the scandal has rumbled on.

Start Quote

Match fixing and gambling fraud is big, global and organised. We can only tackle it by also being big, global and organised”

End Quote Chris Eaton International Centre for Sport Security

"Everyone is looking for a silver bullet, the one thing that will solve the problem, but there is no one thing," says Mr Eaton.

"At present there are pockets of good co-operation, but there is still a disconnect between gambling and sport."

To address these issues, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Council of Europe are launching initiatives to help improve the flow of information and intelligence about sport and gambling to people such as sports governing bodies, event organisers, national governments, law enforcement agencies and legitimate gambling companies.

And at present a gambling bill is going through the UK Parliament, which seeks to ensure that gambling operators will have to be licensed in Great Britain if they want to take bets from British-based gamblers. (This proposed aspect of the legislation would not apply in Northern Ireland.)

Data exchange

But Mr Eaton believes that action in one country alone cannot keep up with international crime.

He suggests there should be "a self-regulatory co-operative approach from the totality of the sports betting industry, at a global level".

And he says this should be underpinned by a data clearing house for the exchange of information between sports, betting and policing organisations.

Cricket fans protest over alleged match-fixing in IPL Twenty20 cricket Huge sums are gambled illegally on Indian Premier League cricket, leading to match-fixing claims

He says this information exchange could follow the example of the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has strong research teams to advise governments on money-laundering prevention, and on strengthening banking systems.

Following this approach - rather than the proscriptive model followed by Wada, the global anti-doping body - would bring about support and approval from all relevant stakeholders, he believes.

"Match fixing and gambling fraud is big, global and organised. We can only tackle it by also being big, global and organised," he says.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    PADDY POWER 08:29:
    David Moyes statue outside Anfield

    The betting business says it has experienced a record 35% rise in the number of new customers at 795,000 more punters. It says it has done this without increasing spending on marketing. Spending on stunts, however, included these: "We put an 'In case of emergency break glass' encased Alex Ferguson wax model outside Old Trafford... and erected a giant bronze statue of Moyes for services rendered - outside Anfield before the Liverpool versus Chelsea showdown."

     
  2.  
    AEROFLOT RESULTS 08:18:
    Aeroflot

    More airline news. Russia's state-controlled Aeroflot reports a loss of 1.9bn roubles (£35m) for the first half of 2014. That compares to a 45m rouble profit a year ago. The slowdown in the economy and a fall in the value of the rouble against other world currencies are among the reasons.

     
  3.  
    QANTAS 08:03:
    Kangaroo

    Shares in the Flying Kangaroo are up 7.3% at A$139 in the wake of its hefty loss. "We are focused now in the short to medium term on the transformation program," said chief executive Alan Joyce. "We are not actively out there looking for an airline investor." Investors are actively buying its shares though - a new law is opening the doors to foreign investment in the international arm of the airline.

     
  4.  
    AA RESIGNATIONS 07:48:
    AA logo

    There seems to be some upheaval at the top of the AA. Its chief executive Chris Jansen is resigning immediately. The chief financial officer Andy Boland is leaving too.

     
  5.  
    ICE SALES 07:39: Radio 5 live
    Alex Brown of Exeter Chiefs takes part in the Ice Bucket Challenge

    The charity ice bucket challenge appears to be boosting the sale of ice cubes. Tesco says they're up 20%. Paul Doughty, managing director of The Ice Company told Wake up to Money his firm had been busy restocking supermarkets - which saw big sales last weekend. But he explained that this was a bit of a challenge. "At this time of year, we are actually ramping down production, sales get run down over the summer, and we start to reduce our staffing levels in our factories through August."

     
  6.  
    LIVING WAGE 07:31:

    What is is? It is set at £8.80 an hour for London and £7.65 for the rest of the UK. Find out here. The minimum wage - the government's base line, is £6.31.

     
  7.  
    PADDY POWER 07:26:
    Paddy Power pic from website

    Betting giant Paddy Power says pre-tax profits are down 13% at £62m for the first half of the year. The company says many football punters had "dream weekends" in January and March, with 16 and then 17 teams of the 21 most backed winning. "This proved costlier than John Cleese's divorce", says Paddy.

     
  8.  
    HAYS RESULTS 07:16:

    Profits have risen at the recruitment business Hays, which operates in 33 countries. Profits rose 12% in the past year to £132m. Dividends are up 5%. "In many of our global markets, the vast majority of professional and skilled recruitment is still done in-house, with minimal outsourcing to recruitment agencies which presents substantial long-term structural growth opportunities," the company said.

     
  9.  
    LIVING WAGE 07:05: BBC Radio 4

    On the TUC Living Wage story: TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady tells Today that women come off worse because there is low value attached to the jobs women tend to do, such as care working and shop work.

     
  10.  
    LIVING WAGE 06:53: BBC Radio 4
    Care worker

    Today is discussing the Living Wage concept. In many parts of Britain, women working part-time earn less than the Living Wage, says the TUC. Three quarters of part-time women workers in Lancashire do, as do two thirds of part-time women workers in West Somerset. TUC chief Frances O'Grady explains: "The minimum wage is an absolute floor, the Living Wage is the level that means you can take your children on holiday for a week - nothing fancy." The minimum wage is £6.31.

     
  11.  
    QANTAS 06:42:

    Can Qantas solve its huge financial problems? The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says: "The airline's annual accounts have become a horror story of decline as it tries to chart a path back to profit and sustainability". Read more.

     
  12.  
    MALAYSIA AIRLINES 06:32: BBC Radio 4

    Can an airline survive two major plane disasters in a single year? Today says that's the question for Malaysia Airlines. Those who have flown on the airline recently report near empty cabins. Can Malaysian Airlines survive? David Learmount from Flightglobal thinks so. "Malaysia will be given a chance by the government and it will be given some money. People don't like seeing airlines go bust," he told Today listeners.

     
  13.  
    BUSINESS LENDING 06:22: Radio 5 live

    Wake Up to Money looks forward to later this morning when the Bank of England will give us an update on its Funding for Lending scheme - introduced two years ago to encourage banks to lend to small businesses. It's not been a rip-roaring success: a previous report said, despite all that help, the amount of money being lent was down £2.7bn over the first three months of this year.

     
  14.  
    QANTAS 06:12:
    A Qantas Airline plane gets takes off at Sydney Airport in Sydney on August 28, 2014

    Overnight Australia's national airline Qantas reported a huge loss of A$2.8bn for the past year - its biggest ever. That was partly due to writing down the value of its planes by A$2.6bn. Qantas added weak domestic demand, poor consumer spending and rising fuel costs also contributed. Chief executive Alan Joyce tried to put some gloss on the figures: "There is no doubt today's numbers are confronting... but they represent the year that is past".

     
  15.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 06:03:
    Saltire

    Pro-independence business people in Scotland have hit back. 200 of them have signed a letter, appearing in the Herald online, saying that the business case for independence "has been made - and it's strong and ambitious". They add: "The real threat to Scotland is the real possibility of a British exit from the European common market".

     
  16.  
    Rebecca Marston Business reporter, BBC News

    The monitor has been fitted and off we go. You can plug in to us bizlive@bbc.co.uk or @bbcbusiness. Here until 13:00.

     
  17.  
    06:00: Ian Pollock Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning, the Business Live page will have its finger on the business pulse, just for you.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.