Tuesday, speakers from all over the world had a debate about this very subject at Play the Game in Aarhus, Denmark.
Investigative journalist Bonita Mersiades from Australia, Tim Walters, college professor from the UK and Deborah Unger from Transparency International were some of the profiles who attended this session.
Former IOC vice president and WADA president, Richard W. Pound, was on Monday evening presented with the Play the Game 2013-award.
In his speach, Soeren Riiskjaer, vice chairman of the board, stated that change in international sport is not made because journalists, whistleblowers and organisations like Play the Game make lots of noise from the outside.
”Change must come from the inside where you have to be diplomatic, discreet and very low-key. But it is sometimes difficult to find leaders on the inside of sport who are really committed to go to the root of problems”, Mr. Riiskjaer said.
Ruthless and direct
The vice chairman pointed out that there is at least one courageous insider who proves, he can achieve a lot, even if he is often anything but discreet, diplomatic and low-key.
”And we are definitely not talking about a Mr. Nobody in the international sports movement,” Mr. Riiskjaer added.
Before asking Mr. Pound on stage, Soren Riiskjaer called the former IOC vice president’s methods both ruthless and direct when it comes to pointing his fingers at the all too many sore points in the international fight against doping.
In 2011 Jens Weinreich and Andrew Jennings received the Play the Game Award. The award has been given six times since 2002.
In the Lisbon Treaty, sports recently got its own article (§165), but according to MEP Morten Løkkegaard the EU countries generally consider match-fixing a national matter.
Therefore, it is difficult for the countries to reach an agreement on how to fight it, especially since some states rely heavily on online sports-gambling, eg Malta.
In recent years, Europol has had success in uncovering match-fixing scandals, and has gained support in the EU for its endeavours. But, a steady stream of success is important to keep up the political momentum, as Morten Løkkegaard explains.
Failure is still an option
“The fight against match-fixing is on the right track politically, but failure is still an option”.
According to Chris Rasmussen of the World Lottery Association approximately 10-15 % of match-fixing is actually discovered and rapported, but the remainder still fly under the radar.
The need to fight match-fixing stems from the sobering realization that it is a billion dollar business, and the gains wind up in the pockets of organized crime.
Law is the weapon of choice
Common EU-legislature would go a long way in the prevention of match-fixing internationally.
But when the European Commission suggested a collaborative effort to create a European center against match-fixing, it fell trough because 1 of 27 states did not agree.
And as Morten Løkkegaard explains: “There can be no legislation without agreement”.
Play the Game 2013 is just around the corner, and before the big conference in Aarhus, Denmark kicks off, the International Director for Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen, is very excited about this years conference.
– This conference will outdo all the previous Play the Game conferences. This year the largest number of different experts and representatives from various unions and organisations, we have ever seen at a Play the Game conference, says Jens Sejer Andersen.
This is the eighth biannual conference and Jens Sejer Andersen is thrilled about the development Play the Game has achieved throughout these years.
– You just need to take a look at how big the issue on match fixing has become the last couple of years. I believe Play the Game is a big part of that along with a whole range of other huge topics such as doping and corruption.
The Largest Play the Game Conference
This year will have the largest attendance of participants with just around 350 people joining the conference through the four days in Aarhus.
– It’s very positive that the conference is growing each year. Now the sporting world know who we are and what we are trying to do. That gives us a whole new role in the debates to promote democracy, transparency and the freedom of expression, says Jens Sejer Andersen.
This is the main goal for the Play the Game conference in Aarhus 2013. This year’s conference will focusing on these themes during the four days of intense sports debates:
Match-fixing: Fair game for gangsters?
Sports reforms: Fact or Phantom?
The anti-doping dilemma: Saving sport, sacrificing athletes?
Recreational sport: A lost cause for sports organisations?
Sports facilities: Who are we building for?
From Russia to Rio: Power games or people’s games?
Speakers will create debate
More than 300 participants from about 40 countries has announced their arrival in Aarhus for the conference. Nearly 150 speakers will start a ton of different debates with a simple purpose to promote democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in sport.
This is the eighth Play the Game conference that had its first back in 1997.