Statement by Chris Eaton (Director of Sport Integrity, ICSS) following the Europol Press Conference

“The work of police in Europe on match fixing in football, highlighted during the Europol Press Conference in the Netherlands today, is the latest example of how deeply international organised crime has taken a grip on international sport.

Sport is now under unprecedented attack from criminals and opportunists who conspire to manipulate the results of competitions around the world to fraudulently win the tens and hundreds of millions that is gambled on sport around the world every day, with the vast majority of this money being invested into the black and grey betting markets of South East Asia.

In fact the entire international betting and gambling industry lies within a complex and convoluted global network, not unlike the interdependence and connectivity seen in international financial markets today.

What is apparent is that there is a clear absence of effective and collective government control on international gambling that deters match-fixers and organised criminals. It is this absence of governmental supervision at a global level where the real fight against match fixing and the manipulation of sport outcomes must now be fought.

All sports played with international interest are affected to varying degrees by the general popularity and attraction to gamblers. But because international sport is enormously popular, and because the results of a sport contest is perceived as never absolutely certain, sport has become the single most gambled on activity around the world today. It is precisely because of this growth in international betting on sport that criminals have aggressively moved into manipulating sports, especially match fixing in football.

Put simply, betting fraud is the basis and motivation for modern match fixing. Both are crimes and both are rampant internationally. Both need to be confronted if we are to clean up sport and safeguard the integrity of sport amongst fans, supporters and sponsors. You cannot though just focus on sport alone. This is akin to only focussing on the addicts and dealers of the illicit drug trade, and ignoring the manufacturers and financiers.

The primary challenge in the relationship between the criminal abuse of betting on sport and the criminal manipulation of sport is identifying a betting conspiracy early, so that the betting fraud can be eliminated while it is unfolding and the sport manipulation can be stopped before it is completed.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that most gamblers progressively bet while a match is actually in-play, therefore almost always meaning that a betting conspiracy is only detectable after a match is well underway, and not before.

For any international sport and organisation seriously seeking to protect itself from manipulation by criminals today, the monitoring of international betting to detect fraud affecting their sport is an essential modern tool.

The ICSS has been and continues to work closely with independent stakeholders, such as the Paris 1 University Panthéon-Sorbonne and UNESCO, to define and deliver best-practice models for sport to protect itself from this unprecedented attack from international organised crime.”