PHOTO: (left to right) Serge Dumortier, Senior Security Manager, FIFA; Shawn Bray, Head of the US National Central Bureau in Washington; Enrique Sanz, General Secretary, CONCACAF.
NEW YORK - More than 30 delegates from football, government and law enforcement in Canada and the United States attended the INTERPOL-FIFA Integrity in Sport workshop co-hosted by CONCACAF, which was held in New York City on January 24 and 25.
The purpose of the conference, titled 'Tackling Match Fixing and Corruption in Soccer', was to increase awareness and understand the key intrinsic issues of match fixing in soccer, as well as to examine the multitude of characteristics associated with such activity.
"It is an honor for me to open this session organized by Interpol and FIFA, and co-hosted by CONCACAF, to emphasize the imminent priority this issue represents not only to the United States, Canada and the CONCACAF region but also to international football as a whole," said CONCACAF General Secretary, Enrique Sanz. "At CONCACAF we are determined to educating, identifying, preventing and providing appropriate disciplinary sanctions to all professionals involved in any unethical and unlawful behavior that would undermine the legitimate nature of the game."
Over the two days, presentations were made by INTERPOL (the world's largest police organization), FIFA and Early Warning System (a company established to monitor matches and to safeguard the integrity of football). Additionally, each national association and other participants shared their experiences and concerns relating to match fixing.
"Match manipulation in football must be tackled in the strongest possible way and we are glad that CONCACAF is taking a proactive approach on this subject," said Serge Dumortier, Senior Security Manager at FIFA. "We must take all the steps necessary to safeguard the integrity of our sport."
In a bigger context and with the aid of technology, match fixing has unfortunately become a viral global matter affecting every imaginable sport across the globe. As the most widespread game in the world, attracting millions of fans and high volumes of financial resources, football has become a highly coveted target for unlawful business deals and a potential nesting ground of unfortunate illegitimate intentions.
This has manifested in various creative ways throughout the history of football and currently, once and again, with a new ailment that will have to be treated with intelligence and strength.
"This workshop has the goal to raise awareness of the key contemporary match-fixing issues and threats in football, and to identify good practice and areas for development. The goal is to bring together players, referees, coaches, sports associations, betting regulators and law enforcement to improve individuals' awareness and understanding of corruption in football, understand the strategies used by its perpetrators and learn some methods to recognize, resist and report them," said Shawn Bray, Head of the US National Central Bureau in Washington.
Over the two days, INTERPOL has conducted an extensive series of instructional sessions. Topics addressed include an overview of the betting industry, identification of match-fixing threats, governance, education and prevention. INTERPOL is the world's largest international police organization with 190-member countries. Its role is to enable police around the world to work together, using a high-tech infrastructure of technical and operational support that helps meet the growing challenges of fighting crime.
As part of CONCACAF's continuous commitment to preserving the integrity of the game and in alignment with FIFA guidelines, the confederation is in the process of identifying the necessary measures on a case-by-case basis while setting several relevant preventive provisions in the form of courses and trainings. To counterbalance education and prevention efforts, CONCACAF is also working to explore appropriate legislation that will provide the context for parameters of sporting laws to exist.
To conclude, CONCACAF invited all other accountable stakeholders to integrate efforts toward finding an optimal solution for these intolerable crimes.
"The football family must certainly be an intrinsic part of the battle against match fixing through education, surveillance and sanction. However, we mustn't forget to work in partnership with all other affected sports, governments, media, fans and society as a whole," concluded Sanz.
This is the second Interpol-FIFA Integrity in Sport workshop CONCACAF hosts in the region. The first one was held in August of 2012 in Guatemala City for all members of the Central American Football Union (UNCAF). A third workshop for the confederation's Caribbean members will take in Panama at their Congress in April.