The European Parliament, led by my S&D colleagues Emine Bozkurt and Petra Kammerevert, has urged EU countries to explicitly ban match-fixing in their national criminal law.
It seems incredible, but in many countries throughout Europe, there are no explicit laws against match-fixing like the ones you find in the United Kingdom.
This comes off the back of the Europol investigation which revealed widespread fraud in sport, with 680 football matches across the world believed to have been affected by match fixing
MEPs also called on sports organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on corruption, including a ban on participants betting on their own matches, an obligation to report match-fixing and adequate protections for whistleblowers.
The results of the Europol investigation have made it clear that match-fixing is not simply about cheating. It is about criminal organisations making and laundering money on a global scale through the online gambling market – as we have seen in Germany, Finland, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.
These criminals know exactly where to go to find the least scrutiny and oversight from public authorities, and which countries still do not have match-fixing on their radar.
The European Parliament has made it clear that we cannot afford to wait until the Council of Europe’s match-fixing convention is signed at the end of 2014 before taking action. This would mean that we have to sit idly by while citizens are threatened and the integrity of sport is undermined – and while criminals have time to invest in new avenues for their criminal operations.
I along with my S&D colleagues, urge the European Commission has to speak out on what they will do today to help safeguard the integrity of sport.
The current scandal exposed by Europol documented a new level of corruption. The protection of sporting integrity can only be achieved through international collaboration.
Match-fixing, corruption and illegal gambling must be tackled consistently and across borders, because organised crime operates worldwide. Therefore member states have to explicitly include match-fixing in their national criminal law and include appropriate sanctions.
Furthermore, regulatory bodies must be set up to identify and combat illegal activities and corruption in sports.