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FIFPro is delighted that the European Parliament (EP) recognizes that the fight against match-fixing goes far beyond the position of the players and that efforts to combat corrupt activities in sport need to be supported by all stakeholders.

 

On Tuesday, the European Parliament during its plenary meeting in Strasbourg adopted a new report on Online Gambling in the Internal Market. In a dedicated section on the Integrity of Sport the Parliamentarians call for greater cooperation on sporting and government levels in the fight against match-fixing. The parliamentarians also voice very encouraging opinions on how this battle is to be fought.

 

The report acknowledges that players are in danger of falling victim to organized crime and strongly stresses "that athletes need effective protection mechanisms to oppose corrupting influences, including the safeguarding of the moral and physical integrity of athletes, proper working conditions and the safeguarding of salaries or remunerations". The MEPs went even further by demanding sporting sanctions for sport organisations not fulfilling their obligations towards athletes.

 

FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen: ‘In this report the European Parliament confirms the conclusions FIFPro has drawn from the Black Book Eastern Europe. The worse the athletes are being treated as humans and workers, the more vulnerable they are to being forced into wrong decisions. We are delighted that this was recognized by the MEPs. We will repeat our call to put an end to these unacceptable standards that continue to be exist in many countries. Together with UEFA and our social partners ECA and EPFL we are working strongly towards improvements through the implementation of the autonomous agreement regarding the minimum requirements for standard player contracts in the European professional football sector. Further, FIFPro calls on state authorities to do their part of the job.’

 

The report drawn up by MEP Ashley Fox does call on member states to implement provisions that guarantee a consistent pan-European policy on criminal sanctions and to ensure that fair trial standards in conformity with Art. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights are being observed when adjudicating match-fixing cases – both in public courts as well as in sports arbitration. A particular emphasis is to be given to improved governance, law enforcement and prevention activities.

 

In this regard, praise was given by the Parliament to the European Commission's launch of preparatory actions supporting transnational projects on the prevention of match-fixing. FIFPro is proud that its"Don't fix it" project, which is conducted in partnership with UEFA and has already delivered a significant contribution to the fight against match-fixing, was one of those accepted by the Commission.

 

FIFPro’s Theo van Seggelen: ‘Match-fixing is recognized as the biggest threat to football's integrity. This battle can only be won if all stakeholders – on government and sporting levels  – co-operate. Footballers and their unions are willing to contribute and co-operate with any stakeholder with a sincere interest in eradicating this threat. But we cannot win if we don't recognize that this problem reaches far beyond the players and is rooted in organized crime. In most cases players are the victims of unscrupulous criminals. We are glad the European Parliament recognizes this and supports the necessary initiatives that need to be taken with footballers as allies, not villains. We need all the support we can get.’