EL partners-up with the Council of Europe: fight against the manipulation of sports competitions by promoting & implementing the Macolin Convention

Two years after the Macolin Convention opened for signatures, the Council of Europe (CoE) convened all relevant stakeholders in Strasbourg on September 20-21for an International Conference to discuss the promotion and implementation of the Macolin Convention. The event was highly participated, counting over 37 States representatives including Australia, Morocco, UAE, Qatar and Kenya. Many more stakeholders were present as well, from law enforcement agencies like Europol and INTERPOL, sports movement (IOC, FIFA; UEFA) and of course EL and GLMS were present too.

The Conference was organized around 11 workshops involving approximately 160 participants; the exchanges were positive and constructive, reflecting the mutual respect that stakeholders developed towards their counterparts over the recent years. Most interventions focused on the threats represented by sports manipulations, a phenomenon that is still too often common-place in politics and society.

Most of participants regret the delayed entry into force of the Macolin Convention but it was highlighted how encouraging is the participation and support given by the “Macolin Community”: its vibrant and clear determination to move towards more morality in ethical sport and society is remarkable.

In the opening session dedicated to the “State of Play/Progress”, EPAS Executive Secretary Stanislas Frossard, recalled how national platforms play a central role for the Convention and underlined the work of the Keep Crime out of Sport (KCOOS) project, where EL is a partner. Cassandra Fernandez (KCOOS Project Manager) explained that national platforms serve as an information hub against match-fixing, mentioning that it is important to divide tasks and responsibilities within the national platforms. She mentioned that the KCOOS project has served a lot towards this direction.

Among the other more relevant interventions, Head of Sport Unit of European Commission Yves Le Lostecque, confirmed that Commissioner Navracsics fully supports the Convention. He explained that one Member State is blocking the process at Council level but at the same time repeated how in general the European Commission does not prevent Member States to sign, it just prefers the ratification to be done in a coordinated manner. Moreover, he noted that in terms of the next EU Working Plan, match-fixing will be normally an issue and that sports integrity projects will remain one the priorities and will be funded by the ERASMUS+ programme.

Finally, the joint presentation delivered by EL/GLMS aimed at explaining how all operations of the Lotteries (and the EL Code of Conduct on Sports Betting) are fully in line with the relevant provisions of the Macolin Convention, providing concrete examples of the Lotteries’ work within the field of education and prevention, risk management and monitoring (presenting on this occasion the GLMS). The general message of the Conference was that although probably the entry into force of the Convention will take time (also due to the blocking of Malta), it is imperative that national States start implementing its provisions anyway and there was a big focus on the necessity of the setting up of national platforms. In the EL/GLMS presentation, it was indeed highlighted that Lotteries are already part of the national platforms that have been set up at today and in general, this is an important element EL members should be aware of.

For what concerns the next actions, the Conference participants identified “14 priorities for the future”, which are also defined as responses to five main challenges:

  • Understanding the threat of sports manipulations to sport and society within the full context of the Convention;
  • Building trust and confidence among and between National Platforms and critical stakeholders, particularly with respect to collecting, sharing and dealing with information;
  • Creating a legal and cultural environment to enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of reporting;
  • Maximising the impact of education and outreach in an effort to focus more on prevention;
  • Encouraging uptake of the Macolin Convention.

The “14 priorities for the future” identified by the participants henceforth do not specify defined actions: the determination of actions will require further discussions between partners and participants as part of the Macolin Roadmap. They are however accompanied by contextual ideas or positions defended by participants during the workshops, which might help later in defining the scope of the actions to be decided.

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