Referees have been urged to aid the fight against match-fixing by adopting a 'Three Rs' principle – recognise, reject and report – to any approach made to manipulate a match.
Officials have been reminded of their important roles in the campaign against match-fixing, and urged to conduct themselves in the appropriate way as representatives of UEFA, in presentations at the annual UEFA winter referees' courses in Lisbon, Portugal.
Men and women match officials attending the 22nd UEFA Advanced Course for Top Referees and the 23rd UEFA Introductory Course for International Referees were asked to follow the 'Three Rs' principle in relation to any attempt to involve them in manipulating a match – to recognise when an approach was being made, to resist any attempt to engage them by saying 'no', and to report, as an obligation, the incident to their national association or UEFA.
The head of UEFA disciplinary and integrity matters, Emilio García, emphasised UEFA's zero-tolerance stance and the life-ban punishments handed down to those found guilty of match-fixing. He reminded the referees of the viewpoint of UEFA President Michel Platini – namely, that football's very existence would be very seriously threatened if the results of games began to be known in advance.
"Match-fixing is a global phenomenon, it is reality," said García. "It attacks the values, integrity, ethics and health of sport, and the integrity of competitions. As referees, you make a key contribution in the fight against match-fixing."
García highlighted UEFA's work in this area. The European governing body has set up the betting fraud detection system (BFDS), which monitors more than 30,000 matches each year across Europe, including all UEFA competition fixtures as well as all domestic first and second-division games.
A network of UEFA Integrity Officers is also in place – liaison officers between the football authorities and state law enforcement agencies in relation to suspected match-fixing. The integrity officers exchange information and experience with the UEFA administration, monitor disciplinary proceedings and coordinate relevant action, as well as organising education programmes for players, referees and coaches. In addition, UEFA has signed memorandums of understanding with betting companies.
"The UEFA disciplinary bodies have been very active in this fight as well," said García. "Several clubs, players, officials and referees have been banned for these illicit activities. The principle of zero tolerance has been applied in all these cases.
"The consequences of match-fixing are very serious for referees, coaches and players," he explained. "If you are caught, you are out of football. Please contact UEFA if you are approached. Don't ruin your career – it's not worth it."
The issue of integrity, honesty and proper conduct also featured strongly in a presentation by UEFA Referees Committee member David Elleray, who stressed to the new international referees the absolute necessity to act as a diplomat and ambassador and to show a great sense of responsibility while on UEFA and FIFA duty.
"You will represent yourself, you will represent your country, your national association – but, ultimately, you now represent us at UEFA and FIFA," said Elleray, a former international referee himself. "That requires from you the highest quality of performance, not just technically on the field, but also diplomatically and as an ambassador outside the field.
"If you don't behave well off the field, you can be sure that things will not go well on it," he added. "Your conduct off the field, away from the match, affects your reputation and our reputation. You are an ambassador for fair play and for football, and we want conduct from you of the highest level. And above all, your honesty and integrity should never be the subject of any question whatsoever."