I'm a lawyer and a former police officer, and I've been dealing with sport integrity related issues since 2010. Currently, I am the director of the CSCF Foundation for Sports Integrity, which arranges education and advice on integrity issues for sports federations, law enforcement, and other national entities.
I developed the IntegriSport concept because I realised that law enforcement and judiciary did not have in-depth knowledge of sport manipulation and lacked the necessary tools, resources, and relevant information to investigate match-fixing cases. That is why it is very difficult to investigate criminals who try to infiltrate and take advantage of sport. With IntegriSport as a program, we have provided this knowledge to law enforcement, judiciaries and all relevant stakeholders, including football unions.
We have successfully implemented two IntegriSport projects – IntegriSport (2019-2020) and IntegriSport Next (2021-2022) – and we will have one more in 2023, which, I am happy to say, will also be supported by FIFPRO: IntegriSport 3.0 (2023,2024) Erasmus Plus.
The implemented projects include 13 awareness-raising sessions in 11 countries, exchanging knowledge with more than 95 stakeholders.
Law enforcement and the judiciary need to understand that sport is not able to protect itself against the criminal groups who try to manipulate it. They have to support sport in this fight, and they also need to have knowledge of what they are fighting against.
Our cooperation with FIFPRO is key. One of the main elements in the fight against manipulation is the athletes. It is important for law enforcement to understand the players’ perspective, and FIFPRO educates them on this perspective: how did players get involved with match-fixing, what were their circumstances, and which rights and obligations do they have?
Several professional footballers appeared in panel discussions during our events and shared their experiences. These were good opportunities to hear their stories, their thoughts about sports manipulation, and how they coped when they were approached.
We learned a lot from them. Most of the time, players are considered perpetrators. But they are not always perpetrators, very often they are victims. We might think that all footballers are super rich, but that’s not true. Many have financial issues. That is something we learned from these awareness-raising sessions with players.
It is important that law enforcement officers now understand that players are part of the fight against sports manipulation, and especially, that the players are willing to do a lot about it.
The FIFPRO Red Button app is a great application for several reasons. Firstly, it allows a player to directly report any approach for sports manipulations. Secondly, it illustrates the trust that the players and the union have with each other: the union is there to help. And thirdly, it shows the determination of the players, their unions and FIFPRO in fighting against sport integrity issues.
That's why it's crucial that more and more stakeholders not only accept, but also understand, the importance of the Red Button.
It is paramount that law enforcement and judiciary help sport, as they are dealing with serious criminal activities. Sports manipulation should be a priority for law enforcement and judiciaries, because these criminals can commit crimes such as money laundering, fraud and criminal conspiracy.
My final message for law enforcement is: ‘cooperation, cooperation, cooperation’. It is very important amongst law enforcement and judiciaries, but also other stakeholders such as players and unions.
Our events also provide players, their unions and FIFPRO with the possibility to understand the tasks and responsibilities that law enforcement and other stakeholders have when it comes to fighting sports manipulation.
My message to FIFPRO and the unions is to please continue doing your job and help players stand up against all type of integrity issues, including sports manipulation. I do believe that players need some support. They should feel that they are not alone and have someone to support them whenever something happens. The unions and FIFPRO should also act as a bridge between the athlete and law enforcement.
Last but not least, I would like to tell the players: please protect your sport and speak up when integrity issues occur. Law enforcement is there to help you.
During the closing event of the IntegriSport Next project, we are going to share and discuss the results of our project with more than 19 organisations, and we will also talk about their policies and strategies on fighting sports manipulation. We will have some interesting discussions about sports manipulation and will look at it from different angles, including the perspectives of law enforcement, sport, and athletes.
Register HERE for the IntegriSport closing conference at FIFPRO House on 4 November 2022.