A session built on trust and cooperation
On November 2, 3, and 4, the Awareness Raising Session in Finland, hosted by the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) and coordinated by CSCF – Foundation for Sport Integrity, had exceptional participation and active collaboration from more than 40 participants that met to debate and understand the phenomenon of sport manipulation in the framework of IntegriSport Erasmus+ within the EU co-funded project.
The feeling during the session was built on trust and cooperation from the different participants to raise awareness and level up the support and identify the biggest threats against integrity in sport and to work towards the same goal: keeping the sport safe and clean.
During the 3-day session, the members of the different organisations had an open discussion on the manipulation of sports competitions (match-fixing) related to criminal investigations and prosecution activities and how this phenomenon has been affecting Finland. Also, recognised experts and members participated in the session with different presentations sharing experience, knowledge, and views regarding the current situation, plans, strategies, and practices related to these issues in the country and Europe.
On the first day, participants from sport organisations such as IntegriSport Next E+ experts from CSCF Foundation for Sport Integrity and the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports – FINCIS held presentations about the general description of the manipulation of sports competitions, national case studies, and national policy in Finland.
The second day was open to all interested parties, and it was an opportunity to share the project’s findings during the preparation phase and national and international perspectives about the manipulation of sports competitions from the CSCF Foundation for Sport Integrity director and its group of experts, the Police Board of Finland, the Global Lottery Monitoring System – GLMS as project partner, as well as FIFPRO, as a supporting project partner. In addition, key local speakers included representatives from Veikkaus, Urheiluvedonlyöjät, Football Players Association of Finland, and the Prosecution District of Southern Finland.
“Finland has been forward thinking regarding fighting and preventing sport manipulation whether it is about investigation, education or cooperation since the famous investigation, JIT VETO. The Finnish experts were involved in the drafting procedure of the Macolin Convention, established FINCIS as the first response organisation on sport integrity and Finland also has a very active national platform. On behalf of IntegriSport Next, I am glad to support the Finnish stakeholders’ effort in combating match-fixing and provide knowledge on the phenomenon for a second time after the very successful Integrisport Erasmus+ project.” Norbert Rubicsek J.D. Director – CSCF Foundation for Sport Integrity
On the third and last day, a day dedicated only for representatives of Law Enforcement, Judicial Authorities, and other stakeholders from the public sector, we had the participation of the National Bureau of Investigation explaining the challenges and learnings from the JIT VETO case and the Spanish Football Federation sharing experiences from a specific case study. Both cases gave a well-rounded perspective of the different procedures and approaches in the fight against this phenomenon.
Following those presentations, at the end of the day, a peer-to-peer meeting was held. It was an ideal space which served as a scenario to share good practices and openly debated with the participants in a round table their point of view regarding investigation and detection of cases of manipulation of national and international sports competitions. For this meeting, we had representatives with extensive experience in the field including:
· @NBI: Arttu Granat, Detective Sergeant
· Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports: Jouko Ikonen, Chief Investigative Officer
· Spanish Football Federation: Alfredo Lorenzo, Integrity and Security Director
· INTERPOL: Claudio Marinelli – Criminal Intelligence Officer
· CSCF Foundation for Sport Integrity: Norbert Rubicsek – Director
“According to the situation picture about combatting the manipulation of sports competitions we published earlier this year, the things requiring the most improvement in Finland are recognising and monitoring the manipulation of sports competitions. Through this training, we will enhance the cooperation between sports and authorities and improve the participants’ ability to recognise the risks of manipulating sports competitions,” says Jouko Ikonen, FINCIS Chief Investigative Officer.
Finally, as an example of one of the objectives of IntegriSport Next Erasmus+ to serve as an instrument to promote cooperation between partners and their different stakeholders, we had the pleasure of receiving Mr. Henn Vallimäe and Mr. Kalle Roos, CEO and Coordinator (matchfixing), respectfully, of the Estonian Center for Integrity in Sports (ESTCIS). ESTCIS participated during the Estonian ARS organised by our partner, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, and have now taken part in the Finnish session to learn and exchange knowledge on this topic.
It should be noted that ESTCIS grants a legal establishment to the National Contact Point (NCP) when it comes to sports manipulation cases. They have been a part of the Copenhagen Group since 2020 and it is said that soon the ESTCIS will be the coordinator of the National Platform.
We appreciate the interactive session and inclusion from all the participants who were part of this activity in Finland.
The next Awareness Raising Session will be held in Sweden on November 24 and 25, 2021.