Article

Corruption draws experts´ gaze

19 March 2013 02:28

Former head of security at FIFA Chris Eaton has flagged the changing nature of illegal gambling as a major threat to sporting integrity.

Eaton left FIFA in May 2012 to take up a post with the International Centre for Sport Security, an organisation which aims to promote cooperation between sporting bodies, governments and other agencies with combating illegal gambling and match-fixing.

Speaking on Monday at the third annual Securing Sport conference in Doha, Eaton highlighted how evolving technology has had a major impact on facilitating the involvement of organised crime in match-fixing.

"What's really happened is over the last 10 years gambling has changed enormously worldwide," he said.

"You've now got international gambling taking place, particularly in southeast Asia, but with the gamblers coming from round the world using the internet, SMS and other forms of communication to bet on games anywhere in the world, any time in the world.

"There are massive amounts of money involved. And of course organised crime thinks this is fantastic and they're finding ways to manipulate sport to commit betting fraud."

John Stevens, the chairman of the ICSS advisory board, detailed the threat match-fixing poses to the popularity of sport world-wide.

"The danger for sport if you're having rigged sport and rigged results is that the public will actually tire of that," he said.

"Also, sponsors do not want to get involved in corruption, obviously. So these issues are driving some of the way forward. It will take time, and that time will produce results.

"But what we need to do is have an aiming point of having safe and uncorrupted sport. It's essential."

Match-fixing is not the only subject under discussion at Securing Sport, with the conference also addressing the issue of doping.

Former Olympic rower Denis Oswald, now a member of the International Olympic Committee, believes the doping scandals which have rocked cycling can act as a cautionary tale.

"I'm pretty much convinced that what has happened in cycling will push other sports to be more careful," he said.

"Cycling is a specific problem as they had a culture of doping, although the federation has been doing a lot in recent years to fight it. But the problem has been much more difficult there than in other sports."

"We can never get rid of doping completely because, like in life, there are always people who cheat. The goal is to reduce those cases as much as we can and make them exceptional rather than usual."

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