As part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 in the United Arab Emirates, players from the 24 participating countries have been warned of the dangers of match-manipulation.
Match-manipulation poses a major threat to sport across the globe, and fighting it is one of FIFA’s most important responsibilities. In order to combat match-manipulation as early as possible, FIFA has been discussing the issue in workshops with each of the 24 teams participating in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013.
As these young players step onto the international stage of an FIFA competition for the first time, they have been strongly warned that both influencing the course of a match and making a financial profit from betting constitute match-manipulation.
“Several different elements of a match can be fixed: the final score, half-time score, number of goals, corners, cards, the first goal, the first penalty or even the first throw-in,” FIFA security officer Nicholas Raudenski explained to the young players.
Raudenski substantiated these comments with some observations from the betting market in recent years. “We have seen a sharp increase in wagers placed on youth tournaments and the FIFA U-17 World Cup attracts a significant amount of interest," he said.
"For example, all the major online betting operators offered odds on the games two years ago in Mexico, and the matches from this tournament will be broadcast in more than 100 countries.” As a result, people all over the world will also be betting on these matches.
FIFA pursues a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to match-manipulation, with 100 per cent of all FIFA matches monitored by Early Warning System GmbH. Raudenski challenged the players by asking: “How would you react if a man came up to you, handed you a brown envelope containing $275,000 and said ‘No-one will ever find out’?”
There is considerable temptation for young players, and it is here that the FIFA Integrity Initiative comes in. “Recognise it, resist it and report it are the three key messages of this presentation,” said Raudenski, before invoking the FIFA Fair Play Initiative. “Think of your team, your family, your friends – and your country. manipulation a match means cheating at the biggest sport on the planet,” he added.
Becoming involved in match-manipulation not only tarnishes a player’s reputation on and off the pitch, it can also bring a promising career to a premature end. As a result, Raudenski urged players not only to resist such offers but also to report any suspected match-manipulation attempts to FIFA via one of several available channels.
In addition to a hotline on which players, officials and referees can report information or suspicions anonymously, FIFA has recently begun offering several online training programmes in association with INTERPOL to explain the dangers of match-manipulation.
These online programmes, each intended for different groups targeted by match-fixers, are available in five languages and use interactive methods to demonstrate how to recognise, resist and report match-manipulation offers and other similar behaviour.