At its meeting in Sofia, the Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC) – composed of representatives of Europe's national associations (UEFA), clubs (ECA), leagues (EPFL) and players (FIFPro Division Europe) – unanimously adopted a joint position paper which includes a concrete action plan to protect the integrity of football and fight match-fixing. This document was also ratified by the UEFA Executive Committee today in Sofia.
The European football family has thus decided to join forces in order to tackle the threat of match-fixing, recognising the risk of it in European football as a global threat and a challenge for the sport in its entirety.
A joint action plan with a number of concrete initiatives focusing on education, prevention, monitoring and disciplinary sanctions, designed to protect the integrity of football in Europe, has therefore also been developed and will be fully implemented together by all the members of the European football family.
This is an absolute priority for all concerned and underlines the common zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing. Together, the ECA, the EPFL, FIFPro Division Europe and UEFA also aim to establish a code of conduct for the integrity of the game for all participants in European football, including players, referees, officials and administrators.
However, all four organisations agree that sports bodies do not have the means or the legal jurisdictions to tackle by themselves a problem, which often involves criminal organisations. 'Sports fraud' should therefore be recognised as a specific criminal offence in national legislations throughout Europe, as this would help to ensure a consistent, effective and coordinated means to deter match-fixing. At the same time, European states should consider dedicated prosecution services with a primary responsibility of dealing with sports fraud cases.
Close cooperation entailing information exchange between police services, investigating and prosecuting authorities, sports bodies and betting companies is essential. This would help sports bodies in the prosecution of disciplinary cases while at the same time allowing state authorities to benefit from their expertise in order to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Recognition of a sports organiser's right in the context of betting is also paramount in helping to tackle threats relating to the integrity of sport, to secure a fair financial return to sports bodies and their members, to supply funding to further protect the integrity of the game, and also to finance other areas such as youth, amateur and female sport – to develop the economic and social role of sport.
Finally, efforts towards the adoption of an international convention on match-fixing under the auspices of the Council of Europe should be encouraged – with full involvement of football stakeholders.
The action plan can be found below and the complete position paper can be downloaded here.
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