It is not only on the pitch that players are learning at the WU19 EURO; every player has attended anti-doping and match-fixing prevention presentations put on by UEFA.
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The WU19 EURO provides a grounding for young players in tournament football, and UEFA have arranged a further educational element with anti-doping and match-fixing prevention presentations for all eight teams in Israel.
Anti-doping: you have to be careful
Mike Earl, anti-doping and medical manager at UEFA, spoke of the dangers of taking banned substances, whether intentionally or accidentally. "I just want to avoid you making mistakes," he said. "The goal is to support and protect you, to make you aware of the risks. We are here to help."
The players were introduced to the doping control process, with a video from the England v Italy quarter-final at UEFA EURO 2012. Refusing to submit a sample, tampering with a sample and bad behaviour in doping control are all violations. Then the importance of always checking medication was iterated. Similar branded medication can be different from country to country, and the prohibited list changes every year. "You should always take advice wherever you can," the players were told.
The message was similar regarding the danger of supplements. Studies show that many elite athletes take them but, Earl warned, "you can never be 100% sure with them." Advice is available but no guarantee can ever be provided. If they test positive after using supplements even after seeking advice players will still be banned – it is their responsibility. "If you need them then always try to minimise the risk."
An anti-doping quiz subsequently took place at the tournament headquarters in Herzliya, with players accepting the challenge of answering ten questions within the space of three minutes. Those who scored highly enough entered a draw for an iPad.
Sample question: If a player tests positive, he/she can say it was their doctor's fault, and avoid a suspension? (*answer below)
Match-fixing: zero tolerance
"UEFA monitors the betting markets: We know when a match has been fixed!" This is the stark warning from Graham Peaker, UEFA intelligence coordinator, as he discussed the dangers of what is now a global problem. Over €500bn is bet on sport each year and the UEFA betting fraud detection system monitors thousands of matches – a fact underlined when players were shown betting patterns for their own games on the opening day of WU19 EURO.
Peaker demonstrated the three main steps to players, coaches, clubs and referees getting mixed up with match-fixing and, after a couple of jarring recent examples of fixed games, the WU19 EURO players were encouraged to practice the three Rs:
a) Recognise what is happening;
b) Reject it;
c) Report it on +800 0001 0002, UEFA's Integrity Platform or using the UEFA Integrity app.
The consequences of not doing so are dire, warned Peaker. "It means a red card for life."
* b) No