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4th Meeting of the Follow-up Committee on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions

Strasbourg 6 April 2022
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As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

 

Dear friends,

 

It is a great pleasure to see the continued commitment of your countries and organisations in support of the Macolin Convention.

Your first physical meeting since the outbreak of COVID-19 is a milestone in our return to more normal working practices:

And it is very welcome.

I also want to pay particular tribute to our Ukrainian colleagues who cannot be here in person, but who are joining us online.

Despite everything that is happening in your country, your determination to contribute to this Committee’s work is impressive and humbling.

There are of course a number of important matters to discuss:

Standard setting and legal issues –

Your approach to monitoring the implementation of the Macolin Convention –

And the Action Plan for 2022-25.

I will say a few words on that shortly.

But, first, I want to mention the unacceptable Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The immediate and terrible impact of this is of course being felt directly by the Ukrainian people:

The millions who have fled, the many more who are trapped, the bodies in the streets.

We can take pride in the fact that we reacted so fast.

First, by suspending Russia’s representation – just one day after the violence began –

And then by expelling the country altogether.

The sports world has reacted in various ways to Russia’s aggression, which I welcome.

This is testament to our commitment to values, in sports and throughout our European societies.

Despite these very trying times –

First with the COVID pandemic and then with the Russian invasion of Ukraine –

Our Organisation has been able to revise and refine its approach to sports.

This will help us become even more relevant and focused on the future.

The Council of Europe and Sport Strategic Priorities sets a clear direction for 2022 to 2025 –

One that was very well-received by our Ministers’ Deputies during an informal Exchange of Views on Sport earlier this year.

We have an overall focus and aim on human rights in sports, which is good and fitting for an organisation like the Council of Europe.

The strategy makes clear the importance of all parts of the Organisation working together, with each playing its unique role.

This coordination and co-operation between our main institutions and main actors will only make us stronger.

It also highlights the value of our unique strategic triangle of standard-setting, monitoring, and
co-operation:

And it further establishes an outward-looking, international approach in which countries and organisations from within Europe – and outside it – work together where our aims and objectives are shared.

But the mechanics of this are not ends in themselves.

Rather, they are the means by which this strategy intends to ensure that sports are driven by values, and underpinned by human rights, as never before.

So, I very much welcome the progress in delivering on the Committee’s Action Plan.

It closely reflects the aims set out in the overall Sport Strategic Priorities –

And seeks to deliver on them within the same timeframe.

Increasing membership and ratifications of the Macolin Convention – within Europe and beyond.

Supporting the implementation of that Convention on the ground, where it really counts.

And promoting national and international
co-operation in the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions –

Working alongside important partners including the IOC, FIFA, UEFA, Interpol and the GLMS.

These are the means by which you will play your vital role in making sports more open, honest and fair.

I can also assure you of my personal commitment to what you are seeking to do.

Let us work together to expand the membership of the Macolin Convention.

This is needed.

But, as you know, getting further ratifications has been complicated by the specific concerns of one EU member state about the definition of illegal betting.

Last November I met Slovenia’s Minister for Education, Science and Sport, Simona Kustec, in the context of Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU, and I gave a presentation at a lunch with all the EU Sports Ministers.

This was one of the key issues we discussed.

While the EU’s consensus-driven approach remains important, the will to make progress was and remains clear.

And I know that your Chair, Mr Mavrotas, also made the case for moving forward when you met a range of senior EU figures.

And all of this has helped build an understanding about the way forward.

Today’s tour de table will also be an opportunity for you to share your thoughts on the issue and any insights you may have.

It is important to note of course that even where a government has not ratified the Macolin Convention, it can still join the Group of Copenhagen.

It is helpful that the Group became an advisory body to your Committee last year and that this collaboration is now formalised in your rules of procedure.

In this way we can share ideas, support one another, and act against the manipulation of sports competitions.

These are at the heart of our strategy -

They illustrate the unique value of working together to address a global challenge –

And I congratulate its members on the successful conclusion of their meeting earlier today, which took place with the participation of Malta and, from outside Europe - Australia, Canada, Morocco and the USA too.

Dear colleagues, nothing erodes trust more than cheating.

Competitors and spectators alike have a right to expect that sports will be run fairly, in accordance with rules, and producing a genuine result.

This is key to sports’ integrity and their popularity.

Your work is crucial to putting in place measures that will spread faith in sports – in Europe and around the world.

I can only wish your all the best in your important endeavours. Thank you for your attention.