International Olympic Committee (IOC) 4th meeting of the Founding Working Group on the Fight against Irregular and Illegal Betting in Sport
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me say how pleased I am to be able to address you during this 4th Founding Working Group and to thank the IOC, and in particular its President Jacques Rogge for initiating and developing this process.
I am especially grateful for the good co-operation which has been built between our two organisations, allowing the Council of Europe to be involved in this group and the active participation of the IOC in our work.
It is my pleasure to attend this meeting with Mr Harri Syväsalmi (Finnish Sports Director), who is the Chair of the Drafting Group of the Council of Europe Convention and with the Vice-Chairs, Mr Jean-François Vilotte (President of the French regulatory authority) and Mrs Valérie Berset (from the Swiss Ministry of Justice), who are attending the meeting with their respective delegations. We are available to provide further details to any delegations on the progress of the negotiation of the Council of Europe Convention, and on how to become involved in the process.
In the 3rd meeting of the Founding Working Group, we mentioned that the Council of Europe was working on the feasibility study on a possible new legal instrument. Further to the publication of this study, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe gave its green light to the launching of the negotiation of a possible new convention against the manipulation of sports results. The first meetings of the drafting group have started and so far, 45 States are associated.
To address the issue of manipulation of sports competitions and the fight against illegal or irregular betting, co-operation needs to be established involving different relevant public authorities, the betting sector (both lotteries and private operators), as well as with the sports movement. Therefore, the Council of Europe project is run in co-operation with these key stakeholders. Co-operation with the sports movement is very successful, thanks to the active and effective involvement of some federations and organisations, and the important co-ordination role played by the IOC. As the Council of Europe's process is running in parallel with the IOC's meetings of the Founding Working Group, it is possible to take into account the expectations and needs of the sports movement and betting operators when drafting the convention.
The purpose of the Council of Europe convention is to facilitate national co-ordination as well as international co-operation when addressing this issue of manipulations of sports competitions, which is a trans-national threat. It is about preventative measures, education, exchange of information, co-operation between betting operators, sports organisations and public authorities, prosecution of offenders (both by criminal law and disciplinary proceedings) and ensuring that the existing laws are applicable to match-fixing cases I would like to further comment on three issues that are addressed by the Council of Europe project and which are also key issues for the IOC:
- Coordination bodies
- Co-operation with law-enforcement agencies,
- Betting monitoring systems.
In the long run, we will need to come together regularly to further exchange views, and promote harmonisation between the sports movement, betting operators and public authorities. The Council of Europe is committed to continuing organising meetings on these issues with its intergovernmental committees in charge of sport policies, law enforcement and betting regulation. Moreover, should the Convention be adopted, its implementation will be monitored by a Conventional Committee.
Such a Committee will hold meetings in an extended setting, with representatives of the Sports movement and betting operators, to ensure appropriate consultations on and co-ordination with these important stakeholders. At the same time the continuation of the IOC Forum will also be needed in order to guarantee that contact is maintained with all regions of the world in particular with countries that are not bound by intergovernmental standards.
The draft Council of Europe convention intends to lay the foundations to facilitate exchange of information between public authorities, (in particular law-enforcement agencies conducting criminal prosecutions) and the sports movement, which has disciplinary competences.
In order to make the involvement of law enforcement agencies possible, the criminalisation of some actions connected with match-fixing offences is key. Therefore, actions of coercion and bribery undertaken in order to manipulate sports competitions with a view to gain huge benefits must be prosecuted, either under the existing legal instruments or under new instruments. I welcome the work of the UNODC to promote an exchange of good practices on criminal laws and to facilitate the use of its legal instruments for this purpose.
Having said that, public authorities recognise that those manipulations which may be considered as a tactical arrangement (for example, when two teams, which are already qualified in a qualification pool, agree to safeguard the benefits of their previous games) are by no means a good practice in the light of sports ethics, but are not an issue of criminal law.
At national level, it is important to identify an authority to be given responsibility for the regulation and/or overseeing the implementation of the legal betting framework. The draft Council of Europe Convention grants such betting authorities with specific functions and its implementation will support the IOC's expectations.
There is also a strong need for the development of multilateral co-operation between these authorities. Therefore, the Council of Europe is setting up a network of betting regulators, which will also be open to non-European countries.
The exchange of information, on a confidential basis, is of utmost importance. Sports organisations need to access timely and comprehensive information that may help to detect and analyse cases, while betting operators need to protect their business in preventing the disclosure of sensitive business information and publicity which may unduly impact the market. The protection of personal data must also be guaranteed. To fulfil these demanding requirements, the Council of Europe Convention considers the setting-up of national platforms involving public authorities, sports movements and betting operators, inspired by the example of the successful co-operation established during the London Olympic Games.
To conclude, I would like to stress that Council of Europe member states are aware that match-fixing is an international phenomenon, and it cannot be addressed at regional level. Europe intends to play a pioneering role, as it did on other issues, such anti-doping, anti-corruption and cybercrime. The negotiation process is open for any state to express interest in participating. Four countries (Belarus, Israel, Japan and Morocco) which are not members of the Council of Europe, have already joined the negotiations and there are on-going consultations with several other states from across the 5 continents.
Thank you for your attention.