• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Match-fixing explodes as illegal betting booms

sports betting house

An international anti-corruption conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) concluded this week, sounding the alarm about a surge in illegal betting that fuels match-fixing and threatens the integrity of sports worldwide.

Fueled by billions of dollars coursing through professional leagues, globalization, and technological advancements, this nefarious industry is estimated to swallow up to $1.7 trillion annually, according to UNODC.

Football, the world’s most popular sport and a magnet for massive investments, emerged as a particular focus of concern. Even FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, has been tainted by scandals, notably the 2015 arrest of several FIFA officials.

In the wake of the 2016 US Department of Justice investigation into FIFA corruption, the international community has intensified its focus on combating crime in sports.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in a video message, acknowledged the urgency of the situation, calling the fight against corruption and match-fixing  and ensuring sporting justice “the most important topic for our organization.”

Read also Amid economic hardship, Nigerians spend millions on betting

He commended the renewed Memorandum of Understanding between FIFA and UNODC, which has led to over 60 anti-corruption projects, including the Global Integrity Programme aimed at tackling match-fixing.

Why illegal betting and match-fixing must be stopped
Illegal betting operators do not have the tools required to protect underage individuals from accessing their platforms, making such vulnerable individuals participate in harmful betting practices.

Illegal betting operators do not follow any regulations, so they can choose not to pay winnings and do not guarantee fairness in their dealings.

Also, profits from illegal betting can be channelled into criminal activities like money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime.

The fight against illegal betting and match-fixing requires sustained collaboration between governments, sports organizations, law enforcement agencies, and international bodies like UNODC.

Only then can the “beautiful game” and other sports regain their rightful place as arenas for fair competition and ethical conduct without match-fixing.