Manipulation of sports competitions is not always a punishable offence under criminal law if, for example, the manipulation carried out has only been aimed at athletic success. In this case, the disciplinary system within sports will be responsible for the consequences of the violation. In their operations, sports federations and sports organisations must pay attention to certain aspects from the point of view of manipulation of sports competitions.
The following guidelines have been prepared on the basis of the Convention of the Council of Europe on the prevention of manipulation in sports competitions.
Up-to-date competition and disciplinary rules
Adequately extensive and up-to-date competition and disciplinary rules are a key part of prevention of manipulation of sports competitions. In terms of manipulation of sports competitions, the rules should include at least the following elements:
- description of the manipulation of competitions/matches and its consequences;
- the prohibition on betting at least on their own tier or affiliated clubs’ tier at which the sports stakeholders operate;
- prohibition on the use of inside information for betting purposes;
- the obligation to provide information on proposals or information relating to the manipulation of sports competitions.
Wide variety of secure information channels
A key method of preventing manipulation of sports competitions is reporting and whistleblowing. It is important to make it clear to sports stakeholders that the information they provide will be treated confidentially and that their identity will be protected. If the stakeholders want to provide information with their own name, federations should have a designated contact person to whom the information can be submitted. The contact point may also be FINCIS. It is important that all stakeholders have the contact information of the contact person or party available. If the sport does not have its own notification channels, the ILMO Service on FINCIS’ website can be used.
Internal guidelines in cases of manipulation of sports competitions
Federations and other parties are recommended to establish their own internal guidelines for cases of manipulation of sports competitions The internal guidelines are only available to the representatives of the organisation and are not public. The internal guidelines must include at least a case-by-case operating model and a crisis communication plan. The case-by-case operating model can be quite simple, such as:
- The organisation must have clearly defined channels and persons that can be contacted in order to inform or report any suspicions of manipulation of sports competitions. The contact information must be clearly accessible and available to all parties involved.
- The preliminary handling of the case is carried out within the organisation by the contact person in charge of issues related to manipulation of sports competitions.
- All cases shall be reported to the Chief Investigative Officer of FINCIS.
- If necessary, FINCIS will refer the matter to the National Platform. The National Platform includes, for example, the police. The police decide on criminal investigations and the sports federation’s disciplinary body on any competition-related sanctions imposed.
- If the case does not result in criminal investigation measures, the organisation may request FINCIS’ help in resolving matters that do not meet the definition of a crime. The investigation is carried out in co-operation with the sports federation.
- At the end of the investigation, the organisation should consider taking the case to its own disciplinary proceedings or concluding the case.
- If necessary, the parties involved must be informed of the conclusion of the case or its outcome.
Guidelines for athletes and other sports stakeholders
If you are asked to take part in manipulation of sports competitions or you become aware of a violation of others, you should:
- Identify or observe the attempted manipulation of sports competitions. Reject the offer politely but firmly.
- Report the request or a possible violation either to your sports federation, players’ association, FINCIS or, if you want to, directly to the police. The most important thing is that you tell your information to a reliable person and are not left alone. You can also report your data anonymously via FINCIS’ ILMO Service or if your sport has other notification channels, you can also use them.
- Keep all the information you have, such as SMS and email messages sent to you. You can store data, for example, by taking screenshots. This data can be used in the investigation of the case or as possible evidence.
Checklist for the prevention of manipulation of sports competitions
- Be honest – do not manipulate matches or competitions
Compete in a clean and fair manner. Do not manipulate the competition event or any part of it. Even a seemingly harmless act can destroy your career and lead to criminal sanctions. Always do your best and always say no to suspicious offers. Remember that you are an important role model for many young athletes.
- Be smart – know the rules
Know the rules of competition in your sports as well as the agreements you have signed. It is important to know the rules and agreements regarding betting even if you do not place any bets yourself. You may also run into problems due to the actions of people close to you. Find out more about these prohibitions, depending on the sport, for example, from your own sports federation or player association. Please note that competition and betting rules may change from season to season.
- Be careful – do not disclose sensitive information
Do not disclose any information that is not available to everyone from open sources. For example, providing external parties with information about unpublished lineups, injuries or tactics related to the competition events is forbidden in the rules of competition of various sports and can cause significant problems if used for betting.
- Be open – if you are approached, report it
If you are asked to take part in manipulation of sports competitions or you become aware that someone else is involved in a violation, always report it immediately. This is the best way to protect sports, your own sport and yourself from the disadvantages of manipulation of sports competitions.