David Anderson, Director of Integrity at betting monitoring service Sportradar, writes exclusively for SportBusiness International about the global fight against match-fixing and the consequences of bad education.
We may be teachers at Sportradar, but we are learning all the time ourselves.
Our matrix of intelligence contacts, and participation in events organised by the likes of (European law enforcement agency) Europol, have given us unique insights into developments in match-fixing networks and regional match-fixing tactics, while our recent work with law enforcement investigations across Germany, Estonia, Hong Kong, Austria and Australia have all improved our integrity programme offering.
Most people will know us because of our betting Fraud Detection System (FDS), which was created in 2004 and currently monitors over 60,000 sports fixtures across 200 competitions worldwide. However, from an early stage, we have provided education and prevention training as an add-on for any client who wanted some extra clarity on betting markets and match-fixing.
Our integrity programmes meet the education and prevention needs of sports federations, leagues and clubs on the topic of integrity and match-fixing. Each programme we run teaches different lessons, however we have learnt that statistics about the betting appetites of match-fixers and the amount of money spent on betting grabs the attention of participants. Making attendance mandatory only increases the need for workshops to be engaging and interactive.
As the appetite for insights grew, we realised the importance education plays in prevention. Doctors always say that prevention is better than a cure, so we set about formalising a second arm to our offering – Fraud Prevention Services (FPS).
We began discussions months before the error-strewn report that claimed there were two fixed matches
In 2011, Italy’s Lega Pro became our first ‘Integrity Tour’ client, meaning we delivered a series of workshops for them across the country under the FPS banner. In Italy, we pushed awareness and understanding of the issue of match-fixing, and we tried to reinforce the right values in players, referees and coaches. We made sure that all workshops were tailored – selecting sport and region-specific case studies – but something was missing. Internally, the same point kept on coming up: isn’t this all a bit passive? Aren’t workshops, posters, or pamphlets all just a little bit hit and hope?
That led us to bring in Danny Sears from Betfair as our head of education, and we started again. From our discussions, it became clear that there were four key elements we wanted to package together: workshops that involved real engagement and interaction; e-learning tutorials that supplemented the workshops and reinforced the learnings; assessments to test understanding; and a digital back-end to track everything.
We also wanted some things from our partners, such as mandatory attendance and completion, and education across the board – from senior players to referees and officials. We felt that all of these key participants could be involved in an Integrity Tour.
Contrary to what some people may believe, we began discussions about the Welsh Integrity Tour months before the error-strewn report [produced by Federbet, an organisation representing European casino owners and bookmakers] that claimed there were two fixed matches in the Welsh Premier League last season.
The FA of Wales launches an anti-match-fixing campaign, as it reveals that over £75m a season is bet on the We… http://t.co/UEICWRPOUQ
— In Wales (@inwales) October 31, 2014
The Football Association Wales (FAW) was aware of our FDS, and reached out to us to explore how Wales could get ahead of this growing global concern. We told them that they were not an especially vulnerable country, but like many countries, they did have players on low wages and with a low awareness of the danger of match-fixers and betting markets.
For us, there is no shame in saying we have adapted our programmes, and implemented positive changes, even as the FAW Integrity Tour continues. At the end of the day, we are really grateful that we have found such a committed and receptive partner in Wales, who share our vision and met all of our aspirations. They are the first of many, we hope.