Crime and Corruption in Sports: Deconstructing Match-fixing

The international peer-reviewed scientific journal Crime, Law and Social Change has just published a special issue edited by CEI researcher Marcelo Moriconi on the topic of “Crime and Corruption in Sports: Deconstructing Match-fixing“.

This special issue was developed in the contest of the international project Training for Protected Reporting System (T-PREG), funded by the European Commission Programme Erasmus + Sport coordinated by the researcher.

About the special issue

On the 1st of September 2019, the Council of Europe Convention against the Manipulation of Sports Competitions entered into force. This official mandate appears to confirm the significance of the issue on the political agenda. For sports governance bodies, the problem is one of the biggest threats against the integrity and sustainability of their industry. Despite this political-institutional situation, the phenomenon still remains under-studied in the academic world and several authors have emphasized the need for more and better empirical research to verify the premises (sometimes unfounded) on which the official preventive narrative of the problem is built. This special issue, Deconstructing Match-fixing, comes to light to address this issue. Systematizing the evidence presented along the contributions, this introductory article attempts to dispel some ‘myths’ in the official preventive narrative, offers some lessons for a better understanding of the phenomenon, and promotes recommendations for establishing more evidence-based public policies and educational campaigns.

In addition to being guest editor for this publication Moriconi also co-authored an article with César de Cima entitled “To report, or not to report? From code of silence suppositions within sport to public secrecy realities“.

About the article

One of the main obstacles to detect undesirable conducts such as manipulation of games and competitions, and to combat corrupt behaviour in the sports world is the existence of the so-called “code of silence” among the sport’s actors. Therefore, integrity educational campaigns, codes of conduct, ethics and disciplinary norms include the obligation to report any suspicion, approach, tentative or case of match-fixing. In some countries, such as Portugal, the obligation to denounce is incorporated into criminal law. Although several protected reporting channels have been implemented for sport institutions and federations to encourage whistle-blowing practices, the level of denouncement is still low. Through the analysis of official discourses, ethnography and interviews with key informants, this article demonstrates that despite the formal norms, reporting on corruption in sport, mainly match-fixing, is a dangerous practice that can have serious consequences for the athletes’ career. More than a code of silence within sports, what exist is a series of public secrecies that deliberately recognize the existence of informal institutions that create and materialize those dangers. However, while integrity actors show awareness of the situation, the official narrative and formal norms avoid considering these problems and, moreover, throw this evidence out of the integrity narrative framework. The result is a delegitimate and non-realistic narrative that pushes sports actors to keep quiet more than promoting ethical behaviours and whistle-blowing.

Photo by Tevarak Phanduang on Unsplash

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Marcelo Moriconi

Research Associate at CEI-IUL. Ph.D in Political Sciences (Universidade de Salamanca). Degree in Social Communication (Universidad Nacional de La Plata). Research interests: Corruption, Portuguese politics, Violence, Citizen Security, Public Administration, Political Theory, Latin American Affairs.

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