Protecting the integrity of sport is a constant battle – not least with the challenges posed by the continuing advances of modern technology, including the widespread use of internet betting. A battle that no doubt will continue throughout 2015, especially by those who care about sport and fair competition.
Apart from the International Sports Governing Bodies, one important organization dedicated to eradicating corruption from sport, especially match fixing, is the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), which is based in Doha, Qatar, and was set up four years ago. Website: ‘www.theicss.org’.
We reproduce below, with the kind permission of the ICSS, a key note speech made by the ICSS President on 6 October, 2014 at a Conference held in London, under the following title:
SPORT UNDER THREAT: THE GAME IS OURS TO WIN
6th October 2014
Speech at London Conference by Mohammad Hanzab President ICSS
Ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests:
Four years ago, I envisaged an organisation that would protect and safeguard sport.
An organisation able and willing to work with everybody.
An organisation driven by science and by facts.
From that idea and from our passion, grew the International Centre for Sport Security.
As President, I am proud of how far the ICSS has come.
I know that every single person in this room shares my passion for sport.
At its best, it has the power to bring countries, communities and societies together.
It instils discipline, challenges prejudice and discrimination,
And it gives people in the world’s toughest environments a chance to succeed.
All of us are custodians of sport.
But today, sport is under threat in a way unprecedented in its history.
It is under threat from corruption lurking in the shadows.
Corruption threatens the transparency and accountability of sport.
Look at betting fraud.
Right now, the global sports-betting market is worth up to 500 billion euros.
As our report with the Sorbonne revealed, 80% of it is illegal.
Look at money laundering.
Over 140 billion dollars is laundered through sports betting every year.
Look at match fixing.
When a fan pays to watch sport, they want a fair competition.
When an athlete trains, it is because they expect the competition to be fair and the rules to be upheld.
Too often, these are not happening.
Sport is under threat because its governance has not promoted the right
conditions for integrity.
Corruption in sport jeopardises the ethical values of our youth, with tragic consequences on our society.
As we all know, corruption in sport is now at the top of the international agenda, but unfortunately, it is not the only enemy to sport.
Threats to its safety and its security remain high and significant.
The threat of terrorism, in particular, is still alive and growing, often transforming major sporting events into public exhibitions of major security measures.
This is not the sport we want.
This is not the spirit of Olympic Truce we are all dreaming about.
Sport at a crossroads
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a crossroads.
If we continue on this path, sport will come to be seen as an arena of corruption, violence, and anti-heroes.
Sport must be saved.
Our response must be global and united.
That is why I envisaged an organisation focused on protecting sport.
That is why the ICSS exists.
We are committed to setting up new ideas and initiatives.
We work to promote commonly agreed international standards to fight existing and future threats to sport.
Minimum standards to be implemented by countries despite their financial capacity and their size.
Responses to the Threats:
Our work has begun.
We have stepped up our fight to preserve transparency and accountability.
I am grateful to the Sorbonne University for the cooperation established three years ago, a cooperation which resulted in the production of the most comprehensive report ever conducted in the field of match-fixing and betting fraud.
It provides Guiding Principles for governments, sports organisations, betting regulators and operators.
I am grateful to the Council of Europe for having made full use of our work for the purposes of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.
We hope to see now many governments following the example of the first 15 signatories to the Convention.
In this regard, let me thank the Ministers who accepted our invitation today to attend a Special Meeting to develop a roadmap to combat match-fixing just before this conference, also involving high-level representatives from international organisations.
Thank you to these pioneers, for acknowledging with your presence the universal value of sport and our collective responsibility to protect it.
It is our shared responsibility to preserve good governance in sport.
The ICSS has worked in this direction with UNESCO, UNODC, the World Bank and regional organisations such as the OECD, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and Commonwealth Sports Ministers.
Our work continues.
There is still more to do before we have the right governance structures in place to protect sport.
On safety and security, we envision new ways for governments, event organisers, stadium developers and NGOs to work together.
New ways for major event organisers to secure their events according to best international practice while taking into account local capacities and promoting long-term benefits for their respective nations and cities.
We support the idea to develop standards able to bring together, under the same umbrella, security, good governance, development, respect for diversity and human rights.
Finally, in an effort to empower youth and civil society to contribute to the ICSS mission, we set up ‘Save the Dream’, our programme to promote sport free from corruption, violence and discrimination around the world.
Save the Dream has recently completed a project in Brazil, in cooperation with UNICEF, to prevent violence against children before, during and after World Cup 2014.
We will be working with UNICEF to launch an even bigger campaign for Rio 2016 and other major sporting events.
Next Challenges and Launch of ICSS Europe
As our work continues, I am delighted to announce that our organisation will expand.
We are launching today a European Head Office based in London and soon an office Paris located inside UNESCO Headquarters.
The London Office will also host the ICSS Enterprise, a strategic research hub working with Harvard University on new research to protect sport, making sure it fulfils its full economic and social potential.
MINEPS V Follow-up:
Finally, I am delighted to announce that the ICSS will host the first technical meeting with UNESCO involving sports ministers and global experts next year in Doha.
This will be a significant step towards realising the promise of the ‘Declaration of Berlin,’ adopted last year by representatives from 128 countries.
Our next priorities are to work towards making sport more financially transparent, and to make sure players are transferred legitimately.
We will continue to nurture the next generation of sport’s leaders, from athletes to organisers.
And over the next two days, we want to hear from you about what else we should do.
So, ladies and gentlemen, it remains for me simply to welcome you.
This is a gathering of individuals with the power to see that sport moves in the right direction in the future.
We are all the custodians of sport.
Its future is in our hands.
If we work together, our prize will be the ability to pass on to the next generation a world of sport that we can be proud of.