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The Slovenian Players' Union (SPINS) and Slovenian Football Association (NZS) jointly organised the first national ‘Don’t Fix It’ conference within the international “Don’t Fix It” project in Ljubljana.

 

The project, which was introduced at the initiative of FIFPro and UEFA in co-operation with Birkbeck, University of London, and financially supported by the European Commission, is aimed at educating and raising awareness of all stakeholders in European football on the subject of match-fixing and at safeguarding the integrity of the game of football. The stakeholders not only comprise football players, but also referees, officials, delegates, representatives of national associations, clubs, leagues, and public authorities.

 

The conference in Slovenia, the first activity within the aforementioned project, was devoted to informing a wide group of stakeholders in Slovenian football and to determining the guidelines for future work. Due to its special content, the conference was not open for the press, sport organisations or the interested public.

 

Twenty-eight participants, including the players' representatives, First Football League clubs and the Trainers’ Association representatives attended the conference.

 

The speakers included:

  • Dejan Stefanovic, SPINS President
  • Zeljko Pavlica, NZS Integrity Officer
  • Mladen Cicmir, NZS Head of International & Legal Department
  • Mitja Jager, Senior Crime Police Inspector at National Bureau of Investigation (NPU)
  • Dr. Bernard Spazzapan, MD Psychiatrist
  • Urban Satler, Drustvo Integriteta – Transparency International Slovenia
  • Amir Karic, former professional football player (photo above)

 

Unfortunately, no representative of the Referees’ Organisation participated, whereas the Slovenian First Football League Association has existed only on paper for quite some time now.

 

The introductory speech by Dejan Stefanovic and Zeljko Pavlica was followed by Mitja Jager, who presented the criminal law and criminal aspect of match-fixing in sport on a national as well as an international level. The participants were then shown a documentary film of one of the biggest match-fixing scandals in recent years. Mladen Cicmir introduced the newly adopted independent arbitration in football and stressed the importance of the fastest possible update of Regulations on the Registration and Status of Players as well as the NZS Disciplinary Rules to protect the player’s status further. Urban Satler highlighted Transparency International Slovenia’s views on the issue and stressed the importance of different approaches for ensuring the integrity of the football game.

 

The second part of the conference concentrated on betting addiction. Former national team player and Premiership player Amir Karic very openly shared his experience of losing his entire football earnings due to a gambling addiction. Later, Bernard Spazzapan referred to Karic during his presentation about the medical aspects of gambling addiction.

 

The conference was followed by the presentation of the “Red Button” mobile application, which was developed by the Finnish Players Union JPY. The application offers football players anonymous reports if they are approached to manipulate matches.

 

In conclusion of the conference, the participants were presented a draft of the Code of Conduct comprising the guiding principles for all players, referees, clubs and other officials. Due to the complexity of the issue, the stakeholders decided to establish a working party, composed of the speakers at the conference, who are definitely experts in their fields.

 

‘The response of the participants has been extremely positive and encouraging’, SPINS President Stefanovic said. ‘At the end of the conference, we all agreed that this seminar is only the first step of the co-operation of stakeholders in the prevention of match-fixing. Therefore, this excellent initiative should be continued and upgraded systematically. Education and communication are of crucial importance for solving the problem and this is the reason why such conferences should be organised on a regular basis’.