“The IntegriSport Next Erasmus+ project (2021-2022) came to an end with its final administrative partners’ meeting and the Closing International Conference on “Sports Manipulation and Criminal Activities Behind Sports” on 3-4 November 2022 in the Netherlands.
Results, impact and positive outcomes for law enforcement and judicial
awareness-raising in the field of sports manipulations.
The project, co-funded by the EU Commission through the Erasmus+ Sport Programme, was the 2nd edition of a unique CSCF-developed training program concept that began with IntegriSport (2019-2020) followed by Integrisport Next (2021-2022). The project has been funded for a 3rd edition starting January 2023. Project co-ordinator CSCF welcomed almost 100 participants to the event hosted by supporting partner FIFPRO, representing international organizations, national law enforcement and judiciary, sports organizations, academia, and the betting sector. Thanks to the project, several immediate impacts were revealed as well as the signatures by project partners of a Joint Statement committing efforts to fight efficiently against sports manipulations.
Being the first of its kind, the IntegriSport concept was conceived as a response to the need for in-depth knowledge about sports manipulations of a stakeholder group that is not traditionally linked to sport - the national law enforcement and judicial sector. In that way, over the last four years, CSCF Foundation (part of CSCF Sport Integrity Group) has been coordinating and providing expertise with the main objective of offering support to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Judicial Authorities (JAs) and other relevant stakeholders to fight against sport manipulation and corruption in sport, using expertise inhouse, as well as that of the partners and collaborating stakeholders.
The conference: an ideal setting to share outcomes and highlight the progress made by law enforcement and judiciary in tackling sport manipulation in recent years.
The conference highlighted the far-reaching impact of the project’s 2nd edition, with the work and determination of project partners and CSCF sport integrity experts. IntegriSport Next has served as a vehicle to raise awareness and triggered cooperation in the 6 European countries of the partners (Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Malta, and Sweden), leading to customized action plans for each partner organization and benefitting over 300 law enforcement officers and judiciary representatives with direct training and over 117 stakeholder organizations linked directly or indirectly to this specific project. The presence at the conference of partners and collaborators from the 1st edition and the future 3rd edition of IntegriSport was a testament to the long-lasting impacts of the concept.
The public Closing Conference served as the ideal setting during which the partners (See list below) presented their experiences and learnings throughout the project, discussed success stories, exchanged best practices and shared with relevant stakeholders in the domain.
Norbert Rubicsek, director of CSCF and project manager of IntegriSport Erasmus+, added: “Most of the time the fixers of a sport event are outside the jurisdiction of the sport federations. We at CSCF and the partner organizations believe that to investigate these perpetrators, the involvement of law enforcement and judiciaries is inevitable. Therefore, we need to provide knowledge for these stakeholders on the issues of sport manipulation and in the framework of IntegriSport. This is why we have been sharing such knowledge with these important stakeholders for 4 years”.
Partners share significant immediate impacts of IntegriSport Next
During the conference, project partners shared the immediate and ongoing impacts of the activities of the project, highlighting the quality that CSCF and its experts delivered in the past 2 years. The partner countries, namely the law enforcement agencies of Cyprus, Estonia and Malta and the public authorities of Finland, Georgia and Sweden, as well as partner organisations ULIS (formerly GLMS) and KU Leuven, highlighted several immediate impacts of the project, including:
The full reports and project practical guide are due to be published by CSCF in early 2023.
A joint statement to tackle manipulations of sports competitions
During the administrative session of the project, the partners discussed and evaluated the final outcomes of the project activities and administrative issues, as well as the sustainability of the project, drawing a link to the upcoming IntegriSport 3.0 project (2023-2024) and ratified their commitment to tackle this phenomenon with greater strength via the signature of the Project Joint Statement.
Additionally, all the partners of the project expressed in the Joint Statement that “We welcome this opportunity to be part of the group of the 17 European country partners and international partner organizations that make up the IntegriSport Community since its first edition in 2019 as a massive step forward in the implementation of coordinated actions and integrity policies against the manipulation of sports competitions”.
Expression of views from athletes and national and international organizations
In addition, on 3 November in the evening, CSCF, with FIFPRO’s support, organized a special teaser event for project partners with an emotional insight into the athletes’ perspective in investigations. CSCF’s Project Coordinator Carlos Guttierez and Legal Expert Cassandra Fernandes moderated an exchange with guest speakers Panu Autio (former Finland Futsal national team captain) and current Executive Director at the Finnish football players’ union Jean Fridolin Ngambe-Ngambe, a Cameroonian-born footballer playing in Finland, who is also currently an ambassador of the players’ union. Both speakers shared their personal experiences of dealing with law enforcement in match-fixing investigations and spoke about the vulnerabilities that can lead to match-fixing.
The main event on 4 November also welcomed the participation of invited speakers and panellists from beyond the partner organizations, including Interpol, the International Olympic Committee, the Football Players Association of Finland, the Spanish Football Federation, the Dutch National Platform, and the European Commission, as well as the presence of a +70 audience of representatives of various organizations such as Europol and Eurojust from 18 countries that currently play a key role in the development of policies that seek to strengthen and care for sport integrity on and off the playing field.
Looking forward: IntegriSport 3.0 (2023-2024)
However, the Final Conference is not the end of IntegriSport as a program. While the 2nd edition comes to a successful end, pending the publication of the final report, it opens the next chapter of the program that will continue, following the recent EU Commission’s funding approval for IntegriSport 3.0 (2023-2024) in six more countries - Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia and Greece - with new organizations and new partners, namely:
This brings the number of countries and organizations involved in the European implementation of the IntegriSport concept to 17. CSCF would like to thank all participants for being part of this initiative and for their support and collaboration on this project. The IntegriSport program would not have been possible without the EU Commission through the Erasmus+ Sport Programme, as well as ALL PARTNERS and other organizations indirectly involved!
We all stand against manipulation in sport!
ABOUT INTEGRISPORT NEXT (Jan 2021- Dec 2022)
The IntegriSport Next Erasmus+ project acted in six countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Malta, and Sweden) from 2021-2022, bringing together the efforts of 10 European organizations that recognize the complexity and seriousness of this phenomenon, the danger it poses to the development and credibility of sport at national and international levels, and the need to cooperate closely to tackle it effectively:
CSCF is committed to the integrity and values that sport has, which are rarely found in other activities of society and, therefore, must be preserved, monitored, and protected. That is why all our efforts endeavour to help the actors of the sports ecosystem with tailored tools to be better equipped to face the challenges coming from integrity breaches that, although they are not new in sports, have become a growing problem at different levels in recent decades, ranging from unethical to illegal behaviour, including but not limited to:
- Sport manipulation (match-fixing)
- Different kinds of violence: Discrimination, hooliganism, racism, or sexual abuses, etc.
- Human rights violations
- Lack of governance
- Omerta and fear of reporting wrongdoing
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