One of FIFA’s core pillars is to protect the integrity of the game. As mandated in its Statutes, FIFA’s objectives include preventing any method, such as match manipulation or corruption, that might jeopardise the integrity of matches, competitions, players, officials or member associations or give rise to abuse of association football.
In recent years, match-fixing has been a particularly high-profile cause for concern in the world of football; however, FIFA started to take significant steps towards ensuring the integrity of football worldwide as early as 2005. Having widened its scope from the early focus on monitoring FIFA’s competitions on the international gambling markets to identifying potentially irregular betting activity, FIFA – along with its integrity partners – has been one of the leaders among sports governing bodies in addressing potential incidents of match manipulation.
Launched in 2012, the FIFA Integrity Initiative has embraced all 211 member associations and focuses on various aspects, including the five main areas of prevention, detection, intelligence-gathering, investigation and sanctions. The FIFA integrity group was set up to analyse and investigate incidents as well as to assist member associations and confederations on request and establish basic structures and processes for fighting match manipulation. This integrated approach aims to cover a range of areas — such as legal and disciplinary matters, betting monitoring, fraud detection and prevention — and involves reviewing policies and procedures, conducting analyses of threats and vulnerability and assessing the effectiveness of regulations and applicable legal frameworks against match manipulation at national and confederation level.
In 2016, FIFA outlined certain measures in the mission-defining document “FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future” to strengthen its resolve to protect the integrity of the game and to fight match manipulation by including recommendations to empower all associations to implement good governance and integrity programmes. FIFA continues to involve all of its member associations and the confederations as part of its network prevention and education programmes, as well as to encourage cooperation with other international sports federations and stakeholders such as betting monitoring companies and gambling operators. The focus in 2017 and beyond will be on helping the member associations and confederations to gain the necessary knowledge and capabilities to fight match manipulation at national level and to support the implementation of a range of preventive measures as well as to adopt long-term, sustainable approaches on ethics and integrity matters, including match manipulation.
As an organisation, FIFA has streamlined and optimised its internal structures by reorganising its integrity functions in the Ethics Department of the Legal & Integrity Division, thereby closely aligning its core match-integrity mission with the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, the judicial body primarily responsible for investigating possible infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics. The focus of integrity investigations by the relevant judicial bodies and potential action if sanctionable offences are found to have been committed continues to be matches falling within FIFA’s jurisdiction as well as its final competitions.