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FIFPro welcomes the Nicosia Declaration on the Fight against Match-fixing, which was adopted during the EU Sport Forum 2012, held on 19 and 20 September on Cyprus. ‘We are largely in agreement with the statement.’

 

During the EU Sport Forum, around 300 participants from European institutions and the Sport Movement met together, including representatives of the unions for professional sporters, sport associations, the European Commission and the ministers of sport of the 27 EU countries. The agenda included a number of subjects of considerable interest to FIFPro Division Europe and its members (the national unions for professional footballers in Europe):

  • A debate on the developing principles of good governance in sport
  • European Social Dialogue in the field of sports
  • The fight against match-fixing

 

All participants at the EU Sport Forum - including the FIFPro delegation and the ministers of sport - emphasised the urgency of the fight against match-fixing. They are unanimous that match-fixing is currently one of the major threats for professional sport, not just in Europe but worldwide.

 

The participants adopted a joint declaration, aimed at addressing the scourge of match-fixing.  ‘It is a growing and pressing problem affecting many Member States and many sports. Addressing the issue requires urgent, concerted, and coordinated efforts from public authorities, the sport movement and betting operators.’

 

The participants of the EU Sports Forum produced a five-point declaration on the fight against match-fixing, outlining the key areas for which initiatives should be developed. The five areas are:

  • Education, Prevention and Good Governance
  • Monitoring
  • Sanctions
  • Cooperation
  • International coordination

 

Click here to read the full text of the joint declaration.

 

The FIFPro delegation, consisting of secretary general Theo van Seggelen and board members Mads Øland and Dejan Stefanovic, welcomed the Nicosia Declaration on the Fight against Match-fixing. 

 

Nevertheless, the union for professional footballers has a number of reservations, explained secretary general Van Seggelen. ‘We want, for example, to emphasise that organised crime is primarily responsible for match-fixing, and that the players are general the victim.’

 

The latter was further underlined by an anecdote from the Cypriot minister of Education and Culture, George Demosthenous. He said that on Cyprus there are clubs that intentionally do not pay any salary to their own players for months on end, and then, after several months, say to the players that they will receive their salaries if they decide to cooperate in manipulating a match.

 

‘The statement by Minister Demostheneous once again illustrates how vulnerable the professional athlete is’, said Van Seggelen. ‘That is one of the reasons why we, as representative of the professional footballers, cannot agree to a zero tolerance policy, because a zero tolerance policy is not the solution for match-fixing.’

 

Van Seggelen added that FIFPro is prepared to cooperate in all sorts of ways in combating and solving match-fixing. ‘The Nicosia declaration is a good gesture, but there is still an enormous fight ahead of us if we are to redress the danger of match-fixing.’

 

Good governance
The conclusion to the debate on the developing principles of good governance in sport is that there is still a lot of work to be done by the international sport organisations. The structures of the various sport organisations are clearly defective where transparency and democracy are concerned. ‘The leagues, clubs and players are still not properly represented in the decision-making process of the sport organisations,’ said Dejan Stefanovic. ‘There is a lot to be gained in that area. The social dialogue (the organised consultation between the clubs, players and unions/leagues) should be an example of good governance.’

 

Social Dialogue
The importance of the social dialogue was underlined during the panel discussion about the European Social Dialogue in the field of sports. Mads Øland, closely involved on behalf of FIFPro in the Social Dialogue in football: ‘The conclusion was that the social dialogue in the field of sport works.’

 

In April FIFPro signed together with the UEFA, ECA and EPFL the Autonomous Agreement on the Minimum Requirements for Standard Players Contracts. ‘The European Commission is very satisfied with this result, even though it took a lot longer than initially envisaged’, said Øland. ‘The social dialogue can also be an instrument for addressing other problems in the world of sport, such as racism, violence and match-fixing.’