Ethical Performance
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Blowing the final whistle on corruption in sport?

May 2013

One of my father’s favourite sporting photographs – and mine, actually, if you don’t count the one capturing John McEnroe’s first Wimbledon win in 1981 – shows him standing with Howard Kendall (then manager of Everton FC) and Kenny Dalglish (then manager of Liverpool, the first time around). They are shaking hands as my father stands between them smiling proudly. It was 1986 and he had brought the two notoriously competitive teams together as part of a Prudential-sponsored community initiative called Playing the Game. It was a poster campaign that featured the two teams posing together – in itself a first - in the traditional team shot pose but side by side. A team of 22, not 11. It was an effort to promote sportsmanship among the youth of the North West at a time when football hooliganism was a big concern. The problems of sport have moved on apace since then. While hooliganism hasn’t dropped off the radar exactly, the subject of corruption is now rife.
Interestingly, an 18-month project has been set up to eliminate match-fixing in European football through education and raising awareness. It is aimed at protecting the integrity of football competitions and the reputation of the game against match-fixing threats coming particularly from sports betting, online versions of which are estimated globally to be worth $700bn (£457bn, €535bn) annually – and growing.
The project, being run by Transparency International (TI) with the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the German Football League, is part of an EC action against corruption in sport. The TI chapters involved are in Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal and the UK.
The project, called Staying on Side, will develop education and prevention programmes and materials for use by football leagues in targeting players, professionals and match officials. As part of the programme, young players and coaches participate in hour-long sessions to receive background information about how match-fixing and gambling work. Players, for example, are sometimes unaware that passing on information about injuries and team line-ups is forbidden. 
Sylvia Schenk, TI’s senior sport adviser, said: “An organisation such as TI, which has experience in helping people say no to corruption, can offer support to those in football who have to come to grips with difficult situations.”
Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, the EPFL chief executive, added: “We want to make sure that all key participants in the game are aware and understand fully the risks and dangers, so that incidents of match-fixing can be better prevented.” 
In light of recent arm-biting events at Liverpool FC and manager Brendan Rodgers’ comment that “this is a club with incredible values and ethics”, let’s hope when it comes to playing fair, Staying on Side can help put the bite on corruption.
PS Look out for the new Ethical Performance website that goes live this month!

Liz Jones | Europe | Corruption

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