The national situation picture on the manipulation of sports competitions in Finland has been prepared under the supervision of the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports in a National Platform set by the Ministry of Education and Culture for 2020–2022. The purpose of the situation picture is to identify the risks and vulnerabilities related to Finnish sports that play a key role in the prevention of manipulation of sports competitions.
The national situation picture of competition manipulation is relevant as a tool for management and decision-making, as manipulation of sports competitions is a threat to sports organisations, to the reputation of sports and to sport itself. The information obtained through the preparation of the situation picture can be used to significantly develop measures to combat the phenomenon.
With regard to the situation picture, it is essential to identify both risk-increasing and risk-reducing factors. The situation picture contributes to laying the foundations for the prevention of manipulation of sports competitions programmes required of the sports federations and assists in training and communication.
Convention of the Council of Europe
Article 5 of the Convention of the Council of Europe defines the assessment and management of risks. According to the article, the contracting parties must define, analyse and assess the risks associated with the manipulation of sports competitions, where appropriate, in co-operation with sports organisations, sports betting operators, competition organisers and other relevant organisations. In addition, the contracting parties must encourage sports organisations, sports betting operators, competition organisers and other relevant organisations to draw up procedures and rules to combat the manipulation of sports competitions and, where appropriate, to take legislative or other measures necessary for this purpose.
In the informal network of national platforms against manipulation of sports competitions, the Group of Copenhagen, it has been agreed that efforts will be made to draw up national situation pictures in the same way at the international level, in accordance with the so-called Australian model. The model is based on the situation picture used by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the situation picture method developed by the Canadian Mounted Police. The situation picture scores the risk factors that threaten sports, including international and illegal betting, international sports connections, the ability of sports to recognise threats to integrity and the commercial exploitation of sports for criminal activities.
Preparation of the national situation picture
The national situation picture on the manipulation of sports competitions in Finland has been prepared under the supervision of the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports in a National Platform set by the Ministry of Education and Culture for 2020–2022.
The information in the situation picture is based on the analysis of 19 sports, the statements of the members of the National Platform group as well as separate statements from Finnish coaches and sports betters in Finland as well as the views of the athlete panel. In addition, Europol’s situation reports (2020/2021) on the involvement of organised crime groups in sports corruption have been taken into account in the situation picture as well as the study on the risks and identification of the manipulation of competitions completed at the University of Jyväskylä in 2020.
A major challenge for the development of the situation picture is to make it commensurate and therefore comparable between the different sports, because the range of sports is wide and the specific characteristics of the sports vary widely.
In Finland, the situation with regard to manipulation of sports competitions is calm and better than in several neighbouring countries. There has been good co-operation between the various stakeholders to detect and combat manipulation of sports competitions.
FINCIS has not received any competition manipulation suspicions from Finland that would have triggered a preliminary investigation or a sports-based investigation in 2019–2020. In addition, Suomen Urheiluvedonlyöjät ry, for example, has not found any clear cases of manipulation of sports competitions where sports betting or gambling were the motive or motivational factor in any Finnish sports in 2020.
There are also several sports that have not encountered any suspicions of manipulation: for example, according to Hippos, there have been no indications of manipulation in trotting races for at least five years. On the other hand, in football, for example, the transformation of manipulation into spotfixing has made it more difficult to detect.
On the basis of the situation picture, the National Platform has drawn up recommendations for measures to combat manipulation of sports competitions and to draw up a national action plan. Some recommendations have already been implemented, such as extending the anti-doping programmes of sports federations to cover manipulation of sports competitions and designing an online training platform. The surveying of sports fraud legislation must continue and international co-operation channels must be fully exploited.
Sports federations must introduce or update rules on manipulation of sports competitions cases at least in accordance with the Olympic Committee’s model rules. Athletes and sports stakeholders must have protected and secure channels for reporting cases of manipulation of sports competitions.