Sportradar renews integrity services partnership with AFC

Image credit: Asian Football Confederation

Sports data and media company Sportradar has renewed its integrity services partnership with the Asian Football Confederation, in an extension running from 2020 to the end of 2023.

Sportradar supports the AFC’s own Integrity Unit to look for match-fixing and betting and betting-related corruption. The press release announcing the deal said Sportradar would also help AFC monitor anti-doping, age fraud, stadium security and ‘compliance matters’ in the coming years.

The Sportradar deal is understood to provide an extra layer of integrity monitoring for the AFC on top of monitoring provided to it by football world governing body Fifa – which also uses Sportradar. The AFC is thought to invest several hundred thousand dollars per year in its integrity monitoring efforts.

Sportradar said the AFC partnership uses the company’s global team of 100 integrity experts, alongside 20 specialist analysts and investigators in Manila, Sydney and Singapore.

In 2017, the two parties launched a mobile app allowing fans, players and officials to report integrity concerns directly to the AFC Integrity Unit. The app will be upgraded under the new deal to allow for reporting of doping, and bullying and harassment incidents.

The AFC-Sportradar partnership began in 2013, with the initial deal running to 2015. There were two, two-year renewals, covering 2016 and 2017, and 2018 and 2019, before the new four-year agreement which covers the period up to and including the 2023 Asian Cup in China.

The press release announcing the new deal said the partnership had resulted in “a marked decrease in match-fixing issues in Asian football, led by the successful prosecution of several landmark cases”.

Among these, last August, three players from Kyrgyzstan and one from Tajikistan were banned for life for match-fixing in the AFC Cup club competition. In 2017, 22 players and officials from Laos and Cambodia were banned for life from football for match fixing, following an AFC investigation supported by Sportradar and the Fifa integrity unit. In 2015, a Tajikistani referee and five Nepali players and officials were banned for match fixing in a similar investigation.

Announcing the deal, AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Sportradar have been a valued and trusted partner of ours since 2013, and we are very proud of what we have accomplished together to help protect the integrity of Asian football.

“However, we cannot stand still and become complacent, that is why our cooperation has evolved over the years to include detection, safeguarding, prevention and reporting measures. Through this, Asian football has the level of integrity protection that befits our loyal and passionate fans across the continent.”

Benoit Pasquier, AFC general counsel and director of legal affairs, said: “We have seen a significant reduction in the number of matches which are of concern. It demonstrates, while there is no room for complacency, that we are prepared to take on those who wish to manipulate our sport.”

Sportradar chief executive Carsten Koerl said: “Our partnership has been characterised by action and innovation in the fight against match-fixing, and strong cooperation has been central for this. From day one, the AFC have sought to make integrity their top priority, and this has led to many positive results, including a clear decline in match-fixing issues across Asia.”