With our Erasmus+ PROtect Integrity Plus project concluding by the end of the year, a final event has taken place in Athens, Greece on 8th of October to share the results and outputs of the project. The conference was attended by player associations and some of the key stakeholders in the fight against match-fixing which was a great opportunity to discuss the progress and further cooperation needed.
PROtect Integrity is a campaign started back in 2010 in cooperation with betting operators, in order to educate players about the integrity and risks of match fixing. Over the years a number of different projects have taken place under the banner, each project building up on its predecessor. PROtect Integrity Plus specifically aims to implement the Red Button reporting app, initially developed by Finish Football Players Association JPY and FIFPro, in 7 different countries and 5 sports, through the work of 8 player associations cooperating with national stakeholders.
In order to see how the match-fixing can affect the careers and lives of athletes, the participants have he from Samir Arab, Maltese football player banned for 2 years for not reporting an approach and Roy Vermeer from FIFPro who was representing Samir at the appeal case in CAS. The story highlights the need for more education, prevention and focus on governance of sport organizations as the sanction of Samir, considering all elements of the case, was widely regarded as unfair and disproportionate.
Subsequently, the results of the project so far were presented, including the Red Button app, research led by prof. David Forrest from the University of Liverpool and the grassroots sport video promoted by player associations during the European Week of Sport in order to broaden the reach of the campaign and raise awareness about the match-fixing. Player associations representatives from AJFSF (Spanish futsal), Rugby Players Ireland and PASAP (Greek volleyball) discussed their experiences and views following the implementation of the project. The case study of a fruitful cooperation between the National Platfrom and the player movement in France was also presented.
The conference concluded with a discussion panel with Matt Fowler (IBIA), Sergio D’Orsi (Europol), George Mavrotas (Greek Government), Mikhael de Thyse (Council of Europe) and Paulina Tomczyk (EU Athletes). The speakers discussed the cooperation between stakeholders in the new environment after the entry into force of the Macolin Convention.
For Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes: ‘I find it really positive and promising for the future that some the main stakeholders in the fight against match-fixing joined the discussion and recognized the essential role that the athletes have to play in this process. We are looking forward to continuing the constructive cooperation with the key actors to protect the integrity of sport’.