Football: Communication the key in fight against match-fixing, says FA director

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Better channels of communication between those trying to end match-fixing across the globe are vital if the issue is to be tackled head-on, according to the Football Association’s director of football governance and regulation.

Darren Bailey, talking at The Sport and Recreation Alliance’s annual sports summit at Stamford Bridge, was keen to stress that improving the links between sporting bodies and enforcement agencies is a necessity as both spot-fixing and match-fixing continues to thrive in world sport.

Rick Parry

Rick Parry

Anti match-fixing organisation FederBet reported 13 football matches across the United Kingdom were targeted for fixing between November 2013 and April 2014.

There have also been high-profile cases in cricket as well as many other sports and Bailey feels a more open flow of information between those fighting to end such stains in sport is needed to eradicate the issue.

“We have got to do this collectively, in a sense it is part of the culture of the nation,” he said.

“What we have to try and do is create an empathy so that the integrity is fundamental and whatever you see, you can believe, there are no ‘raised eye-brow’ moments.

“If people no longer believe in the integrity of the sport you aren’t going to get people to play it, you are not going to get people to watch it and you are not going to get people to invest in it.

“The brutal reality is that unless we are all engaged and doing our bit, something gets dropped. It is not ‘their’ solution or ‘our’ solution.”

Whilst sitting on a panel discussing match-fixing, Bailey suggested a worldwide task force similar to anti-doping agency WADA would be almost impossible and again stressed how he believes things can improve.

“One incident, however small in whatever sport, is too many but I understand the difficulty of introducing global regulation into just one sport - it isn’t a model that would find favour,” he said.

“I sense we can do a little bit better. The only way it is going to work effectively is opening up the data lines, making sure that we can freely exchange information across participants, law enforcement and other agencies.

“Without the relevant information we can’t do what we need to do I would like to see a much more mature and open response from all participants so we can get the relevant authorities to take the relevant action and impose the right sanctions.

“We should be telling more people how well we are doing - we are proud of what we are doing and we want to do more.”

Former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry, who chaired the report of the Sports Betting Integrity Panel, was also speaking in west London and echoed Bailey’s sentiments regarding the inability to hand control of fixing to one organisation.

“Worldwide, it is a huge issue. No-one knows the scale of the problem, except that it is big,” he said.

“They have got into badminton, basketball, powerboat racing and sumo wrestling, it has spread into other sports. It is incumbent on every sport to make sure they have the right laws in place and the right procedures in place. At the very least every sport should have a rulebook that covers it.

“There is a really big issue in how you challenge this thing internationally. I’m a passionate believer that the governing and rule making with each body should stay with each sport.”