The House of European Football recently played host to the first working group on the fight against match-fixing – an important milestone, because the meeting truly opened the way for effective communication and cooperation between football authorities and law enforcement.
UEFA's approach towards match-fixing is well documented. As a governing body, we use the means at our disposal, be it through detection, education or prevention, in order to protect our competitions, our sport and our players and officials. This is our role, and we will remain true to our convictions to eradicate the scourge of match-fixing from football.
The recent Ordinary UEFA Congress provided the football family with the opportunity to reinforce that position across the continent, and to demonstrate that European football is united for the integrity of the game. It was a challenge that our 54 member associations accepted, through their unanimous adoption of an 11-point resolution aimed at tackling match-fixing and corruption.
We expect these words to lead to meaningful action, now that the whole European football family is on the same page. In accordance with the resolution, we all commit to working together and exchanging information and expertise with state authorities in order to win the ﬁght against match-ﬁxing, and we all emphasise the importance of ensuring that 'sporting fraud' be recognised as a speciﬁc criminal offence under national law.
The subsequent meeting in Nyon, involving ministers, legislators, regulators, prosecutors, prominent police figures, Europol and gambling authorities, provided UEFA with the opportunity to transmit European football's message. We were able to present many of the match-fixing cases where UEFA has achieved a successful prosecution, precisely because of cooperation with police and prosecutors. These contacts have reaffirmed that the nature of the crime of match-fixing means that it is very difficult to establish sufficient proof – and that sports organisations have considerably fewer investigatory powers and resources than legal authorities.
UEFA and its member associations are fully aware that football authorities are not equipped to solve the problem of match-fixing on their own. It is only by working together with government authorities and law enforcement agencies that we can eliminate this problem once and for all.
We know we need support, and this is why – through the new working group – we are committed to building and maintaining a communications network with law enforcement agencies and related stakeholders across Europe that can provide support for investigations and cooperation with the relevant authorities. It was refreshing to hear that, across the spectrum, there is a strong desire to realise this ambition.
We are determined that this menace must gain no foothold in our sport. We strongly believe that through more efficient communication and reinforced cooperation, UEFA, state authorities and law enforcement agencies can counter the match-fixing threat. The message from the Ordinary UEFA Congress was clear: the future of football is in our hands.
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