Match fixing worsened during pandemic Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports · September 24, 2021 at 2:32 pm Data on the integrity of sports betting from the last 18 months reveals that match fixing not only worsened during the pandemic, but also looks set to continue to do so. Speaking on the “Integrity in Sports Betting” panel at SBC Barcelona on Wednesday, Sportradar Director of Global Operations Tom Mace revealed that the number of suspicious matches continued to climb and that the profile of the affected sports was broadening. “Quite simply, the predictions are coming true,” he said, referring to an SBC panel last year, which discussed the likelihood of increased suspicious activity in the context of the pandemic. “This is not just my opinion. The data and evidence are actually coming back now that match fixing in the last 18 months has continued to worsen,” he said, adding that he expected it to continue. “During the last 18 months, what was clear quite soon was that match fixing was still affecting the countries, regions, and sports that were previously affected, but we’ve seen continued diversification of match fixing into new sports and lower-profile competitions,” Mace said. “I want to be clear that this is nothing new, but it’s definitely accelerating.” Since April 2020, Mace reported that Sportradar had detected more than 1,000 “highly suspicious matches.” These were across 12 different sports and more than 70 different countries. However, speaking from the regulated industry’s perspective, panel moderator Matt Fowler from the International Betting Integrity Foundation said that while there was an increase in match fixing during 2020, it did not far exceed the figures from 2017 or 2018. However, he conceded that “where we did see a change was the make-up of the sports that made up those alerts, and I think that probably reflected the content that was available. I think match fixing is like any other industry: The corruptors will adapt; they’ll focus their resources and target the available betting markets.” Throughout 2020, the numerous government-imposed lockdowns across the globe meant that many established professional sports and sporting events were also subject to a shutdown. As a result, betting firms diversified their offers to include lower-profile sports that were still operating, esports, and the casino vertical. For this reason, Fowler believes a wider array of competitions were targeted. Commenting on the measures that sports organizations need to take, panelist Ludovico Calvi, president of the Global Lottery Alliance against Sport Competition Manipulation (GLMS), said, “The phenomenon we’ve seen so far has come up in the last few days with the Evergrande case, where a large corporation, which owns a lot of the Chinese clubs, is on the verge of financial collapse. This will obviously create a domino effect on other sports organizations. “We can see that since the pandemic, the degree of vulnerabilities of local sports has changed. Some football federations, for example, have implemented protocols, so that when a new club owner comes to the horizon and tries to buy a sports organization, you need to go through a very detailed due-diligence protocol, the so called Know Your Owner, KUO, so that all your expertise, your financial backgrounds, are all checked.” Finally, FDJ Director of Sport Integrity Gilles Maillet shared an anonymous whistleblowing procedure that his organization has introduced for the French betting market. “If you want a very concrete example of what operators can do as well to help, at the back of my smartphone, I have a QR code. It was created two months ago,” he said. “In fact, we have convinced the French Ministry of Sports, the French Olympic Committee, and a few sports federations to simply co-develop a secure anonymized whistleblowing website for all French sports.” The system enables anyone with suspicions about an event to report it simply and quickly. Maillet said he hoped the initiative would prompt others to act against match fixing.