The Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) is to host an INTERPOL workshop August 25-26 that will educate the region on the key contemporary match-fixing issues and corruption threats in football.
The ‘Integrity in Sport’ workshop will be the first of its kind in Africa, with INTERPOL partnering with COSAFA to launch their programme on the continent.
The English-speaking countries affiliated to COSAFA – Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – will all participate in the INTERPOL/FIFA Training, Education and Prevention Initiative event in Johannesburg.
It will be attended by senior INTERPOL and FIFA officials, including Michaela Ragg, head of INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport unit, Ralf Mutschke, Director of FIFA’s Security Division and Detlev Zenglein from FIFA’s Early Warning System programme.
The two-day Interpol workshop will bring together regional football administrators, players’ representatives, referees, betting regulators and law enforcement to improve awareness and understanding of corruption in football, the strategies used by its perpetrators and the methods to recognise, resist and report them.
The delegates will arrive in South Africa on August 24 and that evening will see the official opening of the workshop.
The actual programme for the event will begin the following day, when participants will be invited to provide current examples of the status of integrity-related issues within the sport in their region.
The participants will also get a look at the global match-fixing picture, and also be given an insight into how these syndicates operate.
There will also be a general overview of the global sports betting market and insight into FIFA’s Early Warning System, its history and how it maps unusual betting trends around the world.
One of the lengthier parts of the course will be a look at good governance within football associations and effective anti-fraud rules, and how to educate players and club officials to be better placed to highlight fraudulent activity.
“With billions of dollars involved and more importantly the very reputation of sport itself at stake, it is vital that law enforcement presents a united front in not only fighting this type of crime but to ensure that everyone involved from the rank and file official to the star player is given the resources and training to counter the corrupt influences of transnational organised crime,” says Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.
There will also be discussions using practical examples as case studies, where participants will be asked to give their assessment of how a particular situation should be handled from an association point of view.
Examples of current match-fixing investigations taking place around the world through Interpol highlight the need to educate players and match officials as to the consequences of fraudulent action, and just what a global problem corruption is. These include:
CHINA: A Chinese court sentenced four soccer referees, including a former World Cup match official, to jail in February 2012 for their involvement in match-fixing and gambling. Around 60 local players, referees, coaches and officials were put on trial the previous December following a two-year investigation into match-fixing.
USA: In December 2011, FIFA confirmed it is investigating allegations of corruption in the 2010 CONCACAF Gold Cup, citing irregular betting patterns during the tournament – particularly those matches involving Grenada, El Salvador and Cuba.
ITALY: Atalanta player Andrea Masiello was arrested in April 2012 after reportedly
admitting to receiving EUR 50 000 (USD 65 700) in illegal payments. The defender, who was playing for Bari at the time, now faces a prison sentence. Eight of his former Bari teammates are also under investigation. Italy made around 46 match-fixing related arrests in 2011.
SOUTH KOREA: A former coach and two former players are found dead – the most recent in April 2012 – in suspected suicides following a July 2011 clampdown on corruption. Forty-six players and 11 others were indicted on charges of match-fixing in the professional K-League.
ZIMBABWE: Around 100 players are suspended as of 2012 for alleged involvement in
Asian betting syndicates linked to match-fixing. The scandal dubbed as ‘Asiagate’ involved players allegedly taking bribes to throw friendly matches between 2007 and 2009 in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 190 member countries. Its high-tech infrastructure of technical and operational support helps meet the growing challenges of fighting crime in the 21st century.
The aim is to ensure that police around the world have access to the tools and services necessary to do their jobs effectively. They provide targeted training, expert investigative support, and relevant data, and secure communications channels.
This combined framework helps police on the ground understand crime trends, analyse information, conduct operations and, ultimately, arrest as many criminals as possible.
In order to meet its goals and objectives, Interpol has established the Integrity in Sport unit at the General Secretariat in Lyon, France.
The dedicated team will develop and implement the programmed, and will form the basis of a training wing within the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore.
To provide a continuum of learning over the next 10 years, the unit is researching and developing a variety of integral training courses and modules – including periodic national and regional workshops – tailored to the individual learning needs of the target groups, such as referees and young players. The ultimate aim is to prevent corruption in football before it can even begin.