SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Matchfixing in esports: an accident looking for somewhere to happen?

May 15 – When he was in charge of UEFA, Michel Platini famously described match-fixing as the cancer of football.

Where there is money and profit, he implied, there was also cheating and corruption.

At the time Platini – himself later banned for breaking ethics rules – made those comments, the world of esports was still developing.

Nowadays it’s a global industry and as a result is susceptible to match-fixing even though it is played on computer screens.

The relationship between esports and matchfixing was one of the final sessions of last week’s Sports Law the Crossroads conference in Madrid with a presentation by Kepa Larumbe, head of legal for sport and esport, BDO Spain.

Although very few instances have yet been prosecuted – unlike in football – the threat, he said, was fuelled by the fact that players have short careers, guaranteed pay is low and, more importantly of all, one player can single handedly make or break a team’s prospects for success.

“There is a strong betting market in esport,” said Larumbe, “but the fight against matchfixing is very difficult to manage. The problem is there is no overall esports governing body. There is no uniformity between different tournaments in terms of what is considered match fixing and what isn’t. There is very little transparency.”

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