Professor Jack Anderson of Queen’s University, in his keynote address to an international sports law conference in Adelaide, zeroed in on bribery and corruption within international sporting events and how match fixing had become the number one threat to the integrity of sports. He cites concerns that when criminals associate with sports, there is not only money laundering involved but also “image laundering”.
According to estimates, around 25 per cent of world sport now is controlled by organised crime. There is a considerable problem of betting in events such as the Indian Premier League or the Twenty20. Four Australian soccer players and a coach from the Victorian Premier League side were arrested for match fixing where according to the police a group had earned more than
$2 million dollars from betting. Online gambling has also become a lucrative option for those looking to launder money. Young sport players were also being “groomed” by such criminal gaings with prospects of future pay-offs.
New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent received a life ban after his confession on match fixing. A move, which according to Prof. Anderson this wasn’t the best way of dealing with the issue. He views automatic life bans as leading to people not reporting such crimes. Players should be encouraged to talk and disclose any information concerning acts of bribery and corruption within sports. .
Cricket Australia is offering an “amnesty” to pardon anyone who gives information on alleged match-fixing on next year’s world cup.
Anderson states the obvious problem on the lack of consensus on whether gambling laws are bad or not. In Australia itself the gambling laws in different states and territories differ.
Essendon has 34 current and former players who are still awaiting the result of investigations. Anderson also questions if the process could be made more efficient. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) legislation needs to be reviewed to avoid a repeat of AFL club Essendon’s supplements saga.
Lawyer Martin Frayne who chaired the sports law conference felt that though previously everyone was more absorbed into the problem of usages of drugs in sports, match fixing has become a very pressing issue. The fundamental pillar according to him of a sport is the unpredictability attached to it, and match fixing undermines the integrity of sports.