Anti-corruption in sport: takeaways from SIGA’s Rome conference

February 20 – In a week where financial cheating and corruption have again dominated sports headlines with the UEFA ban on Manchester City and the Swiss indictments surrounding FIFA’s media rights, SIGA’s conference in Rome which focussed on Anti-Corruption in Sport had an almost eerie-like timing.

Conference discussion focussed on the depth of the scale of corruption in sport and the increased presence of organised crime, attracted by the multiple opportunities sport can provide for criminal infiltration including money laundering and other financial related crimes.

Examples of sport being used for drug trafficking and links to the funding of terrorism provided by the ICSS were a sobering reality check for attendees.

Delegates repeatedly called for more rigorous investigation and coordinated action against organised crime, as well as deeper levels of protection for sports and athletes.

SIGA also called for the establishment of a Sport Integrity Fund, backed by the sporting industry and the judicial system to battle organised crime.

With corruption in football once again dominating the game’s agenda, below are some of the comments from attending speakers:

SIGA CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros called for the criminalisation of corruption in sport by all UN member countries and meaningful, inclusive and result-driven international cooperation and, equally decisive, the establishment of a Sport Integrity Fund as matter of priority. “It is time that a small percentage of the sports industry’s wealth as well as the financial sanctions applied by the courts on sport-related criminal cases be allocated to promote and safeguard the integrity of sport. This is an absolute priority and can’t continue being adjourned if crime is to be stamped out of sport.”

The call for increased prosecution of the organised crime gangs, jailing criminals and confiscating their money was echoed by government agencies, law enforcers and sport in equal measure.

SIGA Chairman Franco Frattini called for “a new world order where any money confiscated is reinvested back in sports. Money earned illegally should be reversed for the use of good honest people.” Frattini summed up the two days of meetings saying: “Whoever does not do for legality what he can, he falls into complicity.”

Vincenzo Spadafora, Minister of Youth and Sport of Italy, stated: “This is a very important time for us in Italy. It is time to transform words and intentions into action. This is why we are all here. I thank SIGA for bringing us together so we can learn from each other. The contribution from all stakeholders at this World Congress will lead the action of my government.”

Frederico Cafiero De Raho, National Prosecutor Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism, Italy, stated: “Sport as an industry generates millions of dollars and should not be allowed to operate with amateur structures. Reform of sports governance is necessary. Corruption is not just football. It is all sport. International cooperation should be a daily task when we investigate crime corruption cases to close the web of global transnational organised crime. This is my experience in my anti-mafia work.”

Luis Neves, National Director, Judiciary Police, Portugal, stated: “From a policing perspective, corruption in sport is quite a new, challenging problem which seems out of control. Thankfully, initiatives like the World Congress on Global Leadership and Anti-Corruption, assists us in forging alliances and enhancing cooperation between other countries which helps combat criminal infiltration in sport.”

Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), stated: “UNICRI has a reputation of being successful in pioneering new ways to address crime prevention, justice and development related issues, and engaging partners and communities in these important areas I commend SIGA for taking the lead and carrying out an oversight role with their Universal Standards and new independent rating system.”

David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva, stated: “By working for sport free of corruption, SIGA contributes to the international community’s struggle for peace, human rights and sustainable development. As we enter the Decade of Action for delivering the Agenda for Sustainable Development, the World Congress on Global Leadership and Anti-corruption in Sport is a major timely initiative to rally all stakeholders towards identifying and addressing the shortcomings in sports governance, thus helping to maximize the convening power of sport and its unique role in building a prosperous and sustainable future for all.”

Ugo Taucer, Attorney General for Sport, National Olympic Committee of Italy, stated: “There isn’t much difference in approach to corruption when combatting against mafia or dealing with sports corruption. It is about multilateral cooperation and data collection.”

Massimilano Michenzi, Integrity Investigator, UEFA, stated: “Protecting the integrity of our competitions against the scourge of match-fixing and corruption is one of the most prominent challenges facing sport.  It requires a collective and concerted effort from both sports organisations and public authorities if we want to win this battle.”

Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini, Magistrate, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stated: “The issue of corruption in sport is now elevated to global level. We are delighted to have the G20 represented at the World Congress on Global Leadership and Anti-Corruption in Sport.”

Lorenzo Salazar, Vice Chair, Working Group on Bribery, OECD, stated: “The OECD has extensive experience in dealing with corruption. I would like to invite SIGA to provide input in the Working Group on Anti-Bribery and look forward to receiving a positive message from this World Congress.”

Shimon Cohen, Chairman, The PR Office, stated: “Change in sport will not be meaningful or sustainable without credible leadership that embraces transparency, accountability and the principles of good governance. SIGA is an important, indeed, vital factor in that regard.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1585724186labto1585724186ofdlr1585724186owedi1585724186sni@n1585724186osloh1585724186cin.l1585724186uap1585724186