Match fixing comes under the spotlight

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

The Sports Rights Owners Coalition, whose members include FIFA, Formula 1, the British Horseracing Board and the ICC has announced that it will lobby the European Commission over its concerns about match-fixing. With widespread speculation over the possible involvement of gambling cartels in the recent murder of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer, it seems the issue is guaranteed to attract attention.

The Sports Rights Owners Coalition reportedly wants the European Commission to include the regulation of bookmakers' activities in a white paper on sport which is currently being prepared. A possible means of regulation would be to make bookmakers' markets subject to scrutiny by the competition organiser – a model which has met with success in Australia.

Accusations of match-fixing have tainted many sports, with Italian football's Serie A a notable recent example. Indeed, we should not forget that the current prohibition of online gambling in the US owes at least some of its roots, and support, to the fixed baseball World Series of 1919. Where the integrity of sporting events is called into question, it is to the detriment of rights-holders and legitimate bookmakers alike.