UEFA President Michel Platini has gathered further European Union (EU) support for the fight against match-fixing at an informal EU sports ministers' meeting in Krakow today.
The two-day meeting is a key step on the Polish EU presidency agenda, whose aim is to have combating match-fixing included in the EU Council conclusions later this year. This would be a major development, as these conclusions shape the EU's future sports policy and the work programme of the EU executive body, the European Commission, very concretely.
Michel Platini said: "I would like to thank the Polish presidency for bringing so much attention to this issue, which is the biggest threat facing European sport. But I am very hopeful, as there is real momentum in Europe for action. I was speaking at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last month when they voted in an important recommendation on match-fixing. Now it's the European Union's turn to show what it can do. Together we can safeguard the future of European sport and European football."
The UEFA President addressed the EU sport ministers today in Poland just after the UEFA EURO 2012 play-off draw, which the ministers also attended. His speech underlined the importance of match-fixing being criminalised and making it a specific criminal offence, as is already the case in some EU member states, namely Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Poland and Portugal.
Mr Platini also called for the recognition of sports organisers' property right in the context of betting on their own competitions. He said: "It is not legislation that I am asking for here. I am simply calling for the fair recognition of a right – the right of European football not to run the risk of becoming the victim, if not the slave, of online betting and organised crime."
France is the first country in Europe to have enshrined this right into law. Ultimately this property right ensures cooperation between sport organisers and betting companies, which leads to more transparency, better monitoring and control mechanisms, and can help to fight money laundering through betting.
In addition, through this cooperation, betting companies could be contractually obliged to report irregular betting patterns and there could be closer cooperation between sports bodies and betting operators regarding the type of bets that may be allowed.
Earlier this year, UEFA's Executive Committee approved the setting up and funding of a network of integrity officers at European level. As well as acting as liaison officer and coordinator between the football authorities and state law enforcement agencies in suspected match-fixing cases, integrity officers will exchange information and expertise with the UEFA administration. They will monitor disciplinary proceedings, as well as organise educational programmes for players, referees and coaches as part of an effective preventative strategy.
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