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”.
A variety of people took the stage during the opening session, and many highlighted the need for an open and honest debate about the conditions of sport worldwide.
“If we want to protect the values and the potential of sport, sport needs to be subject of a critical debate on and off the field,” PtG-chairman Johs. Poulsen stated.
Can hold position for life
Another speaker was Play the Games international director Jens Sejer Andersen. He as well addressed the need for more transparency in sport.
“There is a worldwide demand for better governance in sport,” Sejer Andersen said and then referred to the fact that many leaders of international sports organisation hold their position for years.
“Once you are elected president of an international organisation you are given access to tools that makes you able to hold the position for life. That is not right.”
Need for governance
Other speakers at the opening session was Danish MEP Morten Løkkegaard, alderman Marc Perera Christensen and Belgian PhD Student Arnout Geeraert.
Løkkegaard has called for a European center for the fight against match fixing, which was turned down in Bruxelles.
On the same note, field work from Arnout Geeraert showed that there is a huge need for better governance in world sport. For instance, in only three of 18 organisations the movement of funds was transparent.
His two daughters were standing alone, watching their father being hauled away by police. He was being arrested on charges of match fixing and now he could tell his story.
Mario Cizmek had 16 year long football career mostly based in his native Croatia. Usually a player like him would remain unknown outside Croatia.
But Cizmek was convicted of fixing matches and is one of the rare cases of footballers openly talking about the matter.
Money woes was the starting point
The Croatian was playing for Croatia Seveste who had big financial trouble. The players hadn’t been paid for an astounding 14 months and Cizmeks debts were rising by the minute.
Cizmek and his fellow teammates were perfect targets for match fixing. Desperate and in the need of money, former assistant coach at Dinamo Zagreb, Vinko Saka, convinced several of the players to lose matches on purpose.
Saka would give loans to the money hungering players and then force them into throwing matches in order to pay back their debt.
Cizmek sentenced to jail and banned from football
The Croatian pleaded guilty of fixing six games and cooperated with the authorities. Of the 14 persons accused of match fixing Cizmek got longest sentence. 10 months in jail.
“Twenty years of hard work I destroyed in just one month,” Cizmek told Fox News in February.
Mario Cizmek will be speaking at the Play The Game conference in Aarhus on Monday the 28th of October.
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.
Once number five in the world, snooker champion Stephen Lee now faces 12 years of suspension for match-fixing. And his case is not the first of its kind.
Match-fixing does not only occur in dominant sports like football and volleyball.
Once considered a gentleman’s sport, snooker now faces big problems with match-fixing, and former champion Stephen Lee’s conviction is just the latest case to surface.
The problems are escalatingStephen Lee was once the fifth best snooker player in the world, and now he faces a 12 year ban from the sport, as well as a fine of 40,000 Pounds.
When then world number one John Higgins in 2010 was convicted of ‘giving the impression he would breach betting rules, and of failing to report the approach’, he was only sentenced to a six month ban.
He returned to be one of the players Stephen Lee was convicted of fixing a match against. Stephen Lee won’t be able to return to the sport before 2024, when he will be 50 years of age.
The first known case of a player being investigated for matchfixing occurred in 1995, and another case did not surface until 2005. Between 2005 and 2013, 14 different players were investigated for matchfixing on 23 different counts.
Changing the rules
The rules were changed in 2012 in order to accommodate the changing climate of the sport, but since all of Stephen Lee’s offences happened before 2012, he was sentenced in accordance with the old rules.
Had he been sentenced by the new rules, he would most likely have faced a lifetime ban from the sport.