Organised crime in sports is a global scourge that not only undermines the integrity of the industry, but also inflicts a substantial financial burden on sporting bodies and society. As 2022 World Cup fever strikes in earnest, we look at some keyways to effectively fight organised crime in the sporting world.
- In 2021, the estimated global annual profits from betting-related match-fixing were €165 million.
- We investigate how bad actors exploit the sports world to further their illicit activities, including money laundering.
- Find out how to strike back against corruption in sports.
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Few events evoke as much passion as sporting competitions, and this dates back as far as recorded history. We need to acknowledge, however, that there’s a dark side that comes with the popularity.
Profits generated from football and World Cups, in particular, can generate billions of dollars. The football sports betting market is equally enormous and valued at around $1.7 trillion according to Europol, or roughly 10 percent of the GDP of the EU and the U.S., respectively.
Organised crime in the sporting world can have devastating effects, and the scale of such crime is substantial. Interpol has called this out, stating that “sport brings people together, but criminals looking to make large profits can undermine its integrity”.
Not only does sport-related corruption undermine the industry’s integrity, but the illicit proceeds can be eye-wateringly high. On top of this, financial crime (including corruption, money laundering, fraud etc.) has a wide range of social and humanitarian consequences for all stakeholders.
Emerging technology has inadvertently been game-changing for financial criminals, empowering them to ramp up their activities and raising the stakes. For example, in betting-related match-fixing, global annual profits were estimated by Sportradar to be in the region of €165 million in 2021.
Fighting back is far from straightforward, as illicit crime networks often span geographies and are adept at concealing their activity.
In addition to these factors, we have previously highlighted the poly-criminal nature of sports-related corruption and underscored how bad actors exploit the sports world to further their illicit activities, including money laundering.
When fighting back against sports-related corruption, teamwork is vital.
The widely-held view that working together raises awareness and enables the effective sharing of intelligence and resources is underscored by Interpol.
The organisation says that tackling issues around corruption in sport “requires national and international cooperation between sport, public authorities, betting regulators, the gambling industry and law enforcement”.
Another leading voice championing the pervasive issue of sports-related corruption is Sport Integrity Australia, which was set up in 2020 and is now “seen as a model for a number of countries seeking to establish a sport integrity body which oversees anti-doping, safeguarding, wagering and the manipulation of sporting events”.
Europol and UEFA have also been proactive in this space.
In April 2022, representatives from law enforcement and national football associations attended a conference jointly organised by the two bodies to unpack “current and future threats to protecting the integrity of football and fighting organised crime groups”. Collaboration, the early detection of suspicious activity and prevention were firmly on the radar.
Refinitiv is committed to working across the public and private sectors to highlight evolving risks to mitigate financial crime and protect the integrity of sports.
Watch: Refinitiv Perspectives LIVE: Corruption in Sport – Tackling Organized Crime Groups
Striking back at corruption in sport
In addition to the collaborative work that needs to happen on a global basis, there are many steps that individual organisations can take to identify and stamp out sports-related crime within their networks.
Refinitiv has developed a comprehensive suite of tools and solutions to help organisations spot bad actors and fight back against corruption.
From identity and account verification to screening, due diligence and digital onboarding, our cost-effective, configurable tools enable you to seamlessly assess risk and zero in on illicit activity, even across global networks.
Screening remains one of the most effective best-practice solutions to identifying potential risk at an early stage in any business relationship. Our World-Check Risk Intelligence database delivers accurate, structured data to help you screen for heightened-risk individuals and entities.
In the event that elevated risk levels are detected, our due diligence and enhanced due diligence reports deliver insights that can be tailored according to exact needs.
Our solutions enable identity verification for both individuals and entities and our account verification tools offer real-time solutions to help pinpoint and minimise payments-related risk.
The intelligent deployment of these and other tech-enabled tools can make all the difference when it comes to effectively striking back against organised crime in sports.
By leveraging leading-edge technology and trusted data and working towards greater collaboration between all stakeholders in the global response to corruption in sports, the industry can fight back more effectively and avoid playing into the hands of criminal networks.