July 25 – Football has been added to the EU’s watchlist of money-laundering risks.
“Professional football’s complex organisation and lack of transparency have created fertile ground for the use of illegal resources,” the European Commission said in a statement. “Questionable sums of money with no apparent or explicable financial return or gain are being invested in the sport.”
While the EU has some of the strongest rules to combat money laundering, the commission said that regulators were moving to slow to catch criminal gangs and often basic due diligence was non-existent.
The news comes as the European transfer window gathers speed before the start of the season with suspicion on the sums involved, the source of the money spent and the destination of funds generally opaque to say the least. and following a spate of cases that have seriously called into question the integrity of the game.
Darren Bailey, consultant at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys and former Director of Football Governance and Regulation at the English FA, said the EU’s announcement was no surprise.
“Unfortunately, sport is an avenue that has not been fully closed to money-laundering and exploitation,” he said. “Clearly, sport and public agencies need to work more closely together and share information to tackle these threats.
“In order to maintain the competitive and financial integrity of sport, as well as protecting the public from crime, there also needs to be a more sports-specific approach to data and information sharing. Governments and public agencies need to recognise the unique characteristics of sport before implementing an approach to fully tackle corruption and financial misconduct.”
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