The Council of Europe has been striving to create change, which helps countries develop concrete solutions to the challenges sport faces, such as the growing threat of the manipulation of sports results. Competition manipulation represents major challenges not only to the rule of law and democratic values that the Council of Europe safeguards, but also to the integrity of sport, undermining the confidence of society in sport organisations and major tournaments. That is why, the Council of Europe in recent years has invested in actions assisting countries to change their policy, legislation, and practices for fair and safe sport, in line with Council of Europe standards, such as the Convention on the manipulation of sports competitions (Macolin Convention).
The Keep Crime Out of Sport+ project (KCOOS+) was the operational arm of the Macolin Convention. The project was running for 4 years from January 2018 to December 2021, providing multiple avenues of support to 48 countries from 5 continents. Through various activities, the project assisted public and private stakeholders from across the world, namely public authorities (those responsible for sport, for the regulation of betting, law enforcement and prosecution) and private entities (sport and betting actors). These activities included in particular 8 technical and legal assistance exercises, 7 seminars and webinars, 4 awareness-raising activities and 3 study visits. As a consequence of these activities, the impact of the project can be summarised along two main aspects, namely the promotion and the implementation of the Macolin Convention.
The contributions from Australia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Norway, and Switzerland, together with the European and World Lotteries associations, have entirely financed the project. Partnerships with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (EUROPOL), the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), the Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) enriched the potentialities of activities implemented.
The KCOOS+ project has considerably influenced the development of policies and the governance of the fight against competition manipulation in participating countries and created a solid basis for transnational co-operation. The project contributed to the entry into force of the Macolin Convention and helped address challenges related to the manipulation of sports competition. Thanks to the entry into force of the Convention and international co-operation within the framework of KCOOS+, the environment of the fight against sports manipulation has known a very positive and fast evolution.
Although the project has brough change, the challenges identified at the beginning of the project remain current, namely, to facilitate better understanding and awareness about the phenomena of competition manipulation as well as to provide systematic and sustainable support that help main stakeholders set up efficient structures and procedures for the co-ordination of the fight against competition manipulation at national and international levels. For it, the Council of Europe must continue to strengthen its network of countries, partners, and experts to sustain the project’s successful mechanisms.
The project’s legacy lies in the commitment to make sure that countries receive targeted assistance that facilitates better understanding, increased competence, and co-operation among stakeholders for tailored solutions addressing the manipulation of sports competition. This legacy, with the values that the Council of Europe upholds in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights and good governance in sport, remains indispensable for the countries engaging in a long-term fight against competition manipulation.
Awareness-raising and exchange of information and experience, promoting the Macolin Convention
The awareness-raising activities, especially the five capacity and confidence-building fora organised in Europe, Pacific Islands and South America, contributed to increased awareness and a better understanding among national public and private stakeholders from 39 countries about the phenomena of competition manipulation and common approaches in addressing it.
The regional seminars and online events (for example the European Online Networking Session with 40 participants from 33 countries and the Webinar on the Role of National Olympic Committees in a National Cooperation Framework with 110 participants from 80 countries facilitated exchange of information and experience by providing peer learning and participation opportunities to stakeholders to share good practices. The online database of the Macolin Club House with 94 entries (in December 2021) has provided stakeholders with opportunities to establish contacts and receive information about their peers and other relevant stakeholders in other countries, thus enabling exchange of information, expertise, experience, and good practices among interested stakeholders.
Facilitating the establishment of national governance structures, implementing the Macolin Convention
The project supported public and private stakeholders from 15 participating countries in setting up efficient structures and procedures in line with the Macolin Convention’s provisions and principles. Thanks to technical assistance activities, study visits, seminars and webinars, national stakeholders increased their capacities to co-operate in an environment of trust. Several countries begun to establish formal or informal National Platforms, which are the key national hubs dedicated to the co-ordination of the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions (Art. 13 of the Macolin Convention).
Some of the technical assistance activities produced a strategic plan – a roadmap or action plan – that defined priorities and expected results as well as milestones to reach concretes steps forward in the implementation of the Macolin Convention. The development of roadmaps or actions plans in Fiji, Liberia, Moldova, and Morocco aimed at facilitating the mobilisation of stakeholders, supporting the establishment of the governance structures at national level, and enhancing co-operation at international level.
Belgium, Denmark, Fiji, Georgia, Norway, and Portugal participated in a “sport risk assessment” pilot activity, which enabled to assess the integrity threats and associated potential areas of vulnerability in specific sports. The methodology, which was initially developed by Australia and was further tailored for participating countries, was concluded in three phases:
- completion of a questionnaire.
- interviews with representatives of National Sport Federations participating in the assessment.
- drafting of a Sport Risk Assessment report.
The activity was supported by Sportradar Integrity Services through the development of betting market liquidity assessment, which provided a vital understanding of the scale of the threat emanating from domestic, Asian-facing, and other bookmakers around the world. In total, more than 35 sports were assessed across the pilot countries.
As a result of these activities, participating countries mapped and mobilised their stakeholders, identified tasks to be performed by authorities and institutions, and defined whether the existing laws were sufficient or specific amendments or new legislation would have been needed criminalising competition manipulation and sports betting-related offences. Participating countries also gained a greater understanding of the scale of wagering and the size of the sport betting market, which were critical factors in understanding the threats – as well as their different types - to the integrity of sport. Most importantly, countries stepped on the road towards the establishment of National Platforms.
International and cross-sector co-operation, implementing the Macolin Convention
With the Republic of Moldova ratifying the Convention further to the cooperation in the KCOOS+ project, the Macolin Convention could come into force . Signatory countries, such as Australia and Morocco, became members of the Group of Copenhagen (unique Network of National Platforms). Through providing a key operational support to the development of the Group of Copenhagen, the project contributed to the evolution of the international environment. The international collaboration within the framework of the Network further enhanced the establishment, operation, and development of National Platforms and increased stakeholders’ knowledge and capacity not only in the initially 15 participating countries, but in all member countries, which increased to 33 members during the project.
In addition, the project enhanced cross-sector co-operation at international level. For example, the study visits allowed trans-national exchange of different stakeholders from law enforcement, lotteries and betting and public authorities. The webinar jointly organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Council of Europe was dedicated to the role of National Olympic Committees within National Platforms. The European Online Networking Session allowed key European stakeholders from lotteries and football to share good examples on cross-sector co-operation.
KCOOS+ has also developed guidance for international stakeholders, which is instrumental for the establishment of common references. During the project, reviews were undertaken, key concepts were clarified, and a set of thematic reference documents were prepared. As a result, the Secretariat could extend its tools to provide more evidence and experience-based technical and legal assistance, which can build the capacity of different stakeholders.