Tuesday, March 12, 2013

February WSLR Editorial: Silo-busting: integrity's new frontier

There have been a number of significant developments in the ongoing battle against match-fixing this month. However, what is interesting about them is how well they illustrate the lack of a coordinated approach to tackling match-fixing. All the different bodies involved are operating in silos, rather than talking to each other.

Europol revealed details of a large-scale investigation into match-fixing. FIFA pointed out that many of the cases revealed by Europol have been dealt with - it has its Early Warning System GmbH to help with this - and launched a website for whistleblowers with information on corruption. Interpol held a conference on match-fixing that illustrated how law enforcement needs to cooperate to tackle match-fixing, yet has made no concrete moves towards this itself. Legislators drew up new plans to regulate operators on the premise of protecting consumers from corruption. Gambling operators bemoaned attempts to further regulate them, yet also complained about lack of consultation with regards to attempts to tackle match-fixing.

This may sound strange coming from the Editor of World Sports Law Report, but sport is unique as a legal discipline in that a debate exists as to whether 'sports law' exists at all, or whether sport is simply governed under a number of established legal disciplines. As with all legal disciplines, sport is regulated through criminal and civil law, but also through the various rules of international federations and national associations that govern different sports. Tradition dictates that sports organisations regulate on a national level with loose international governance. The European Commission has even recognised that sport regulations can have 'special characteristics' which might fall outside of normal law in its White Paper on Sport.

The number of bodies involved in regulating sport is therefore huge. As there is nothing connecting them, they all operate under their own codes and traditions. They are also interact with civil and criminal law, and the bodies involved with policing that area. This situation might be described as a 'lacuna', and goes some way to explaining why sport has failed to get to grips with tackling match-fixing.

This is why initiatives such as the International Olympic Committee and Council of Europe initiatives against match-fixing are so important. Somebody needs to take control of the process and set guidelines as to how all the bodies involved should interact together to regulate an international problem such as match-fixing. As pointed out by the European Sports Security Association in this edition, if sport wants to continue to exist in parallel with the normal rules of law, then it needs to get its house in order before somebody else does it for them.

Andy Brown


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