Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) along with a cross-party group of MEPs, has tabled a motion for resolution a European Parliament Motion calling on the EU to take stringent, coordinated action to crackdown on the organised criminals behind match-fixing and corruption in sport.
“A EUROPOL investigation revealed the global and widespread nature of corruption in sport recently, and match-fixing in particular with 680 matches deemed suspicious, including 380 matches in Europe. The investigative team described how a wide-ranging network of match-fixing has existed with 425 people under suspicion and 50 people already arrested due to this illegal activity,” Mr Kelly said in Strasbourg today, in co-signing the Parliament Motion for Resolution on match-fixing and corruption in sport.
The former GAA President is calling on the European Commission to take serious action on the issue: “The Commission needs to take the lead in the fight against corruption in sport by implementing a coordinated approach amongst stakeholders in the sports world so we can stamp out this criminal activity. Sports organisations themselves must adopt an absolute zero tolerance approach to match-fixing and corruption of any kind, both internally and in relations with external contractors in order to wipe out the chances of members succumbing to pressure or bribes from criminality.”
The Fine Gael MEP stated that the Commission and theMemberStatesalso need to establish cooperation with third countries on combating organised crime involved in match fixing, amongst others by taking part in the negotiations for an international convention of the Council of Europe to combat the manipulation of sports results. The EU could use its influence to exert pressure during international negotiations on Asian ‘betting havens’ such as Hong Kong andSingapore, in his view.
Mr Kelly has raised concerns about the impact such corruption has on the integrity of sport on numerous occasions, but also stresses the very serious illegal nature of the crime.
“EUROPOL’s findings are only the tip of the iceberg, there is far more corruption going undetected and that will have a hugely, detrimental and long-term impact on the integrity of sport if we allow it to persist.
“I am also extremely concerned at the nature and involvement of organised criminals in these schemes. Profits made from match-fixing are ultimately generating high revenues to fund the criminal underworld, drugs trade, human trafficking and more grave crimes.
“We are talking about professional fraudsters and very dangerous individuals who operate under the cover of massive, global networks. Unless we take an EU and worldwide approach to targeting these criminals, they will continue to evade justice,” Mr Kelly added.
MEPs will be asked to cast their vote in favour of the Motion for Resolution on match-fixing and corruption in sport, co-signed by Mr Kelly, in the European Parliament, Strasbourg tomorrow (Thursday).