World sport 'must tackle big business of match fixing'

Stefano Mauri (r) in action against Inter Milan Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, who has been suspended for nine months for failing to report knowledge of match fixing

The marriage of sport and gambling, once a commercial match seemingly made in heaven, is facing some tough questions as corruption scandals continue to rock officials, players and fans.

Cricket, snooker and football are among the sports that have been seen to be susceptible to manipulation and match fixing.

Indeed, in the past few weeks new stories have surfaced about football match-fixing scandals in Italy, Austria and South Africa.

There is an urgent need to find ways of staying ahead of increasingly tech-savvy global criminals.

"International sport is in serious trouble with match fixing, which is a facilitating crime for a bigger crime, namely betting fraud," says Chris Eaton, director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS).

It is a Qatar-based organisation that aims to be "a global hub of security, safety and integrity expertise" for sport.

'Greedy people'

"Match fixing is big business, and financially lucrative. It has become the new game for organised crime internationally," says Mr Eaton, former head of security for Fifa, the world football governing body.

In a lifelong career in law enforcement he has also been a federal agent in his native Australia, and worked for Interpol, the international crime-busting organisation.

The 61-year-old says that while match fixing for sporting reasons such as promotion and relegation still occurs, this has been overtaken by "greedy people" looking to make millions from gambling coups.

Chris Eaton Chris Eaton has a long career in crime prevention and detection

He points out that whereas gambling is well regulated in markets such as Europe, in other places - such as China, South East Asia and India - there are major problems with the large, lucrative but unregulated gambling industries.

As well as being unpoliced, the unregulated market also takes bets that regulated bookmakers do not - either because of the amounts being gambled, or because the bet seems crooked.

Mr Eaton says that in India up to 2bn euros (£1.67bn; $2.7bn) can be gambled on major Test match cricket games, such as against Parkistan, and some 1bn euros can be wagered on major Indian Premier League cricket games - all totally illegally.

China's illegal gambling market

Ladbrokes, one of the UK's largest regulated betting operators, says it is one tenth of the size of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).

The HKJC provides horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment in Hong Kong.

In turn, the HKJC is one tenth the size of the illegal Chinese gambling market.

Source: Ladbrokes/World Sports Law Report

And he says the black (illegal) and grey (unregulated) gambling markets in South East Asia are among the biggest and most sophisticated in the world, where betting is not just a cash business but one that uses websites and, increasingly, mobile and social platforms.

At the same time, the issue is becoming increasingly global.

Mr Eaton says policing operations into match fixing usually focus on gaining a prosecution in the country where an offence takes place, and do not address the worldwide nature of most sports betting fraud, which is usually planned and financed in a totally different part of the globe.

A local approach is not much use, he says, if match fixing is organised in Singapore, affects a game played in Hungary and the betting fraud is carried out in Australia.

"Strictly national policies, or investigations carried out in one linguistic or cultural sphere, can never catch up with international crime," he told delegates at a World Sports Law Report seminar into sport and gambling.

"It takes two to four years to follow these crimes, and by then those involved have got their money and are gone."

Sponsor pullout

Meanwhile, the impact of match fixing goes beyond hitting a sport's reputation and the income of legitimate bookmakers.

South Africa has been in the spotlight for the past three years over football match-fixing allegations surrounding a series of friendly games they played before hosting the 2010 World Cup.

 Buhle Mkhwanazi follows the ball during the Nelson Mandela Sports & Culture Day in Soweto Puma, the German kitmaker, has dropped its backing for South Africa

These include the 5-0 win over Guatemala and a 2-1 victory over Colombia in May 2010, where three penalties were awarded in each match. Last week Fifa's ethics committee prosecutor opened an investigation into the allegations.

As a result of the claims South Africa's kitmaker sponsor, the German company Puma, has ended its financial relationship with the country's football association, whose new president Danny Jordaan says revenues have dropped from $80m in 2010 to $20m this year as the scandal has rumbled on.

Start Quote

Match fixing and gambling fraud is big, global and organised. We can only tackle it by also being big, global and organised”

End Quote Chris Eaton International Centre for Sport Security

"Everyone is looking for a silver bullet, the one thing that will solve the problem, but there is no one thing," says Mr Eaton.

"At present there are pockets of good co-operation, but there is still a disconnect between gambling and sport."

To address these issues, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Council of Europe are launching initiatives to help improve the flow of information and intelligence about sport and gambling to people such as sports governing bodies, event organisers, national governments, law enforcement agencies and legitimate gambling companies.

And at present a gambling bill is going through the UK Parliament, which seeks to ensure that gambling operators will have to be licensed in Great Britain if they want to take bets from British-based gamblers. (This proposed aspect of the legislation would not apply in Northern Ireland.)

Data exchange

But Mr Eaton believes that action in one country alone cannot keep up with international crime.

He suggests there should be "a self-regulatory co-operative approach from the totality of the sports betting industry, at a global level".

And he says this should be underpinned by a data clearing house for the exchange of information between sports, betting and policing organisations.

Cricket fans protest over alleged match-fixing in IPL Twenty20 cricket Huge sums are gambled illegally on Indian Premier League cricket, leading to match-fixing claims

He says this information exchange could follow the example of the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has strong research teams to advise governments on money-laundering prevention, and on strengthening banking systems.

Following this approach - rather than the proscriptive model followed by Wada, the global anti-doping body - would bring about support and approval from all relevant stakeholders, he believes.

"Match fixing and gambling fraud is big, global and organised. We can only tackle it by also being big, global and organised," he says.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    08:49: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco has also warned on its full year profits outlook. It says it is "reviewing all opportunities that exist within the group to generate value and create headroom. Full year profitability could therefore be further impacted by actions we choose to take." In other words, don't expect a turnaround over the next six months.

     
  2.  
    08:35: FOXTONS FALL
    estate agent

    Estate agents Foxtons' shares have fallen 18% after it said its earnings would fall due to a sharp drop in demand in the London property market. Foxtons said its third quarter sales fell 3% to £39.3m and said political and economic uncertainty in Britain and more restrictive rules on mortgage lending were the cause. This is the Foxtons who were told in 2009 their "renewal" commission from a landlord if a tenant stayed on past the initial tenancy period - even if the agency had played no further part in arranging or managing the extended tenancy - was unfair.

     
  3.  
    08:21: TESCO EARNINGS BBC Radio 4

    Brian Roberts of Kantar Retail is talking Tesco on the Today programme. He says some retailers -Aldi - have a far simpler business model than Tesco. They buy things to sell to their customers. But most supermarkets make more money through buying. And Tesco has been the biggest sinner here, he says by "extracting its profitability from suppliers" over the last few years as opposed to its customers. That's as a result of these supplier rebates we've been hearing about recently, which mean supermarkets get a discount on the goods they buy from suppliers if they hit certain sales targets. Hope that's clear.

     
  4.  
    08:07: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    Jane Clark, author of the blog Frugal Queen has been talking Tesco on 5 live. "I do find it a bit pricey... they are more expensive than my local fruit and veg shop for greengrocery." Tesco "will have to price match with the discounters and be aware of how little money people have." She says they need to ditch buy one get one free on junk food because people want cheaper basics.

     
  5.  
    08:06: TESCO EARNINGS
    Tesco share graph

    Tesco shareholders have reacted badly to its interim results. The supermarket's shares have opened 6.5% lower to 171p.

     
  6.  
    07:54: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco's rather dramatic fall in statutory pre-tax profits is the result of one-off items totalling £527m, including an adjustment relating to "prior years' commercial income" of £145m, stock write-downs of £63m, impairment charges of £136m in the UK and Europe, restructuring costs of £41m, and another £41m retrospective charge relating to a Valuation Office ruling on ATM rates plus a £27m increase in the Bank's provision for customer redress.

     
  7.  
    07:44: REED ELSEVIER

    Media firm Reed Elsevier said underlying revenue growth for the first nine months of the year was 4%. It bought 25 firms for £294m.

     
  8.  
    TESCO EARNINGS Via Email

    Winston Collinge from Carlisle writes in: "Notwithstanding the upsurge of Aldi and Lidl, isn't it just the case that there is overcapacity in the food retailer sector and they are now fighting like dogs?"

     
  9.  
    07:31: DEBENHAMS EARNINGS
    Debenhams

    And now for something completely different. Department store Debenhams says like-for-like sales rose 1.0% for the year to 30 August. Profit shrank 24% to £105.8m as profit margins narrowed.

     
  10.  
    07:21: TESCO EARNINGS

    There's an update to the Deloitte investigation into Tesco's overstatement of its expected half year profit too. The amount overstated is up - a bit - and it's no longer a singular overstatement. Tesco now says the overstatement amounted to £263m in total. The impact on its trading profit for the first half of this year is £118m. But there is a further £70m overstatement from the previous financial year and £75m from before the 2013/14 financial year. Both of those have been treated as one-off items within this set of results.

     
  11.  
    07:12: TESCO EARNINGS

    Tesco chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, has also announced his resignation although there's no timetable yet. He says: "My decision reflects the important principle of accountability on behalf of the Board and will support the company to draw a line under the past as it enters the next phase of its development." He has come under pressure to stand down since Tesco revealed that it had mis-stated its profit outlook for the first half of 2014/15 in September.

     
  12.  
    07:08: TESCO EARNINGS

    ... are out. UK like-for-like sales excluding petrol are down 4.6%. Statutory pre-tax profits are down 91.9% to £112m. The underlying profit figure for the period (26 weeks to 23 August) is down 46.6% on the same period a year earlier to £783m.

     
  13.  
    06:55: LLOYDS JOB LOSSES BBC Radio 4

    Mr Hahn tells Today the UK banking industry needs to do more in the way of community banks. He adds banks are beginning to link up with supermarkets as a way of doing this but local communities are likely to suffer as more bank branches close. He says it has been "an error" of government policy that "we keep thinking in terms of challenger banks". What the UK banking industry really needs to think much more about is community banking and how to provide banking services to small communities, he adds.

     
  14.  
    06:41: LLOYDS JOB LOSSES BBC Radio 4
    A Lloyds Bank logo

    The 9,000 job losses at Lloyds Banking Group amount to about 10% of its total workforce. It is also expected to announce a series of branch closures. Cass Business School banking analyst Peter Hahn tells Today the way we buy things from banks has changed. That's putting pressure on bank branches. He says we'll see "fewer but better bank branches". "We'll see them more principally located, so big cities and market [towns]," he says. Mr Hahn suggests they will be slicker operations, more sales-oriented, but not used as much for "regular transactions."

     
  15.  
    06:28: GLAXOSMITHKLINE Radio 5 live

    Newspapers are reporting GlaxoSmithKline may spin off its HIV business. Holly Cook, managing editor of Morningstar's website for UK investors tells 5 liveWake Up to MoneyGSK's respiratory drug, advair is under "intense competition" and a sale through a public offer "will allow GSK to streamline itself" as its HIV drugs see "huge demand".

     
  16.  
    06:15: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    "Like-for-like sales is the first number analysts will look at, followed by the accounting problems," says Holly Cook of Morningstar on Wake Up to Money. The online business may have done well while the supermarkets will be a "weak spot." Looking at Tesco, "a lot of customers find it a bit overwhelming and you are bombarded by information and you can't find what you want."

     
  17.  
    06:07: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live
    A Tesco trolley

    "When the CEO is on gardening leave the chairman should step up and that's not happened," says Mr Roberts on Wake Up to Money, talking about the performance of Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent. The supermarket discovered a £250m profit black hole. "I'd be remarkably surprised if it's limited to a 6-month period," he adds.

     
  18.  
    06:01: TESCO EARNINGS Radio 5 live

    Brian Roberts of Kantar Retail is on Wake Up to Money talking about Tesco's results, out today. "There's lots of hoops you have to jump through" as a shopper at Tesco, he says. Buy one get one free, the loyalty card, driving a car and buying the petrol. "With Aldi you just have to turn up... Tesco used to have the shopper at the centre of the business and now they've replaced the shopper with the shareholder."

     
  19.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning. Get in touch via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  20.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning all. Now we could try and pretend that there is other news going on (and in fairness there is some) but let's face it, the focus today is all going to be on Tesco's half year results. We'll bring you them as soon as they drop, plus all the reaction and the rest of the day's news as it happens.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • St John's, CanadaThe Travel Show Watch

    It’s a ships’ symphony – listen to these freighters in Canada play music with their horns

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.