The Early Warning System congress, taking place from 25-26 March, will cover a wide range of topics, relating not only to the sports betting industry but also to the wider issue of sports sponsorship and the possible threats to integrity which large influxes of unchecked money can have upon professional sport.
Early Warning System itself was set up originally as a pilot project to monitor betting on the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany, before being formally established in July 2007 as a FIFA subsidiary company.
And while the topics of discussion on the second day of the congress (entitled “Sports Betting – Markets, Facts, Law”) will cover familiar ground for betting experts, the opening day’s deliberations on “Sports Funding – Sponsoring, Sports Betting” are deliberately intended to widen the debate.
“We are definitely looking at the wider picture at the start of the congress,” EWS CEO Dr Urs Scherrer told FIFA World.
“Nowadays, you cannot separate the financing and sponsoring of sport from discussions about sporting integrity. So we want to start with this global point of view about the importance of financing in modern sport, and then focus on the relationship between betting and sports finances, and what effect that relationship can have on football, or any other sport.”
The aim of the congress is precisely to foster dialogue between people with different viewpoints and allow everyone to hear more sides of the story.
An impressive list of speakers have already been lined up for the event, including FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Sport, Willi Lemke, and Friedrich Stickler, the former Austrian Football Association President who is now the President of European Lotteries.
Equally important as the speakers, according to Dr Scherrer, is the varied group of attendees which will include representatives of football clubs, governing bodies, commercial sponsors and, of course, the betting industry.
“The congress will bring together a lot of people who have not always seen eye-to-eye on some issues, for example on the debate over whether private betting companies should help fund the efforts being made by governing bodies to tackle illegal gambling or match-fixing,” points out Scherrer. “But the aim of the congress is precisely to foster dialogue between people with different viewpoints and allow everyone to hear more sides of the story.
"Will we see any resolutions being reached? That would certainly be a lofty goal for a two-day meeting, but hopefully we can at least share opinions and reach a common understanding on some issues.”
Professionals working in the sports industry, media, academic arena, betting industry or in other relevant sectors who wish to attend the event can register on the Early Warning System.