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Tackling match-fixing in football

New research to target match-fixing in professional football kicks off in the New Year

A new initiative to target match-fixing in professional football kicks off in the New Year with research input from Birkbeck.

Footballers in eight countries across Europe will be interviewed about rigging games as part of the project to develop education programmes and an online reporting tool to stem the illegal practice of match-fixing. FIFPro – the world professional footballers’ union – is the leading partner in the drive called ‘Don’t Fix It!’ UEFA – European football’s governing body – is also involved in the £240,000 (300,000 Euros) project.

Understanding match-fixing

Carried out under the auspices of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre (BSBC), the research phase of the 18-month initiative will be led by Dr Andy Harvey, of Birkbeck’s Department of Psychosocial Studies, with input from Sean Hamil, Co-Director of BSBC. Dr Harvey will be talking to players and players’ associations in England, Finland, Greece, Italy, Norway, Romania, Scotland and Slovenia. He will investigate the factors that invite match-fixing, including gambling, criminal activities, intimidation and low wages.

Dr Harvey said: “We are trying to get to grips with the factors that drive match-fixing. From the case studies we will find out what practices take place. No-one goes into football thinking that they are going to fix matches, but it sometimes happens because of threats, social, financial and psychological factors. Gambling is seen as a big driver of match-fixing.”

Education and Code of Conduct

The research will inform education programmes carried out in each of the eight countries to raise awareness of match-fixing among players and officials. Confidential online reporting tools will also be developed to enable players, officials and administrators to report suspicions of match-fixing anonymously.

FIFPro and UEFA will agree a Code of Conduct against match-fixing, and the final results of the project will be shared at an international conference in Slovenia in June 2014.

Dr Harvey added: “Match-fixing strikes at the heart of the integrity of the game, and the authorities are taking it very seriously. This research is going to be very practical and will lead to education and guidance to help tackle the problem.”

The Sport Unit – part of the European Commission’s Education and Culture Directorate-General – is funding ‘Don’t Fix It!’ The Birkbeck research element of the project is worth £19,000 (24,000 Euros).

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