Manipulation of sports competitions

Manipulation of sports competitions means influencing the progress or result of a competition or game. The manipulation is deliberate or distorting, and the objective is to gain unreasonable benefits for the manipulator or for some other party or parties.

The motivation for manipulating sports competitions is usually money. Manipulators may be looking for success in the competition, or betting, or may be involved in money laundering.

Manipulation of sports competitions is a threat to sports and is linked to criminal activity

Manipulation of sports competitions threatens the very core of sports. It harms their values and integrity. Some sports are more prone to manipulation than others. If a specific sport is considered particularly prone to corruption, people start questioning its honesty and ethical values. The shadow cast by manipulation can even endanger the existence and operations of clubs as sponsors. Other shareholders might fear potential misconduct, and might not want to risk their reputation on the sport.

International organised crime involves manipulation of sports competitions worldwide. The criminals and criminal organisations taking part in this manipulation form an extensive network, and efficiently exploit the varying and even conflicting legislation of different countries. Criminal activities are long-term and systematic operations.

Education, raising awareness and monitoring as solutions

Something can be done about these threats to sports. When sports invest in education, raising awareness and monitoring, corruption becomes a more recognisable phenomenon which is easier to detect. This is the most effective means of preventing it.

The disreputable activities that can be connected to sports have been studied in various ways. It is important to gain much more information and more in-depth understanding of the phenomenon itself. A better understanding is also needed of the underlying factors that create opportunities for manipulating competitions. Some correlation can be seen between the frequency of manipulation of sports competitions and the incidence of general corruption. Even so, the phenomenon is also present in countries with low levels of corruption.

Finland takes responsibility

As a prosperous and developed constitutional state, Finland has the moral obligation to act responsibly in sports, and to take part in international co-operation to promote fair and corruption-free sports. Work against the manipulation of sports competitions is an important part of the operations of the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS).

On 18 November 2015, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture appointed an extensive advisory board of sport ethics, functioning as a coordination and co-operation body between the various administrative sectors and stakeholders in sports. The advisory board promotes sports ethics and the enactment of any related international agreements. The working committee of the advisory board also acts as a national platform, in accordance with the agreement against manipulation of sports competitions.

Legislation needs improvement

Finland has signed the Council of Europe convention against manipulation of sports competitions. Therefore, awareness on the phenomenon must be increased among Finnish authorities and the entire society. Legislation must be reviewed, because the parts of the Criminal Code that prohibit bribes do not apply to manipulation in sports as well as they should. In addition, monitoring efforts must be improved to eliminate opportunities for manipulation.

Jouko Ikonen

Jouko Ikonen

Chief Investigative Officer

phone: +35840 570 5012