Svenska Spel CEO Patrick Hofbauer and Swedish FA (SvFF) General Secretary Håkan Sjöstrand have called for an urgent reform of Sweden’s ‘match-fixing committee’ in a joint article published by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
On 1 January 2019, coinciding with the launch of Sweden’s re-regulated online gambling marketplace, the Swedish government established its match-fixing council.
The Council was tasked to promote a new era of Swedish gambling legislation as a central agency, while also helping to uphold public safety through the integrity of sports.
The Swedish Gambling Inspectorate Spelinspektionen, in cooperation with the country’s federal police force, justice authorities and various government departments, spearheaded the Swedish council.
Despite its high-profile ranks, Hofbauer and Sjöstrand note that the council was turned into a zombie entity two years after its establishment, unable to provide any protections for reputation security.
The executives who participated in the meetings demonstrated in depth that the Council failed specifically on its founding goal of strengthening stakeholder cooperation on the challenges of fighting match-fixing.
“Leading the match-fixing council in the fight against manipulation in sports must involve full focus on concrete measures to achieve the goals. As the Spelinspektionen does not interpret its assignment in this way, the council functions more as a discussion forum than as a task force,” the article stated.
The executives expressed their disbelief that no sort of ‘national process’ had yet been introduced by the council to immediately report on suspicious match-fixing or wagering activities between parties.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand said that Swedish Social Minister Ardalan Shekarabi, the author of the new gambling laws in Sweden, should be made aware of the failure of the council in which “the work against match-fixing has lost its focus and energy.”
The article encourages Swedish agencies to accept and follow an international match-fixing system in which Hofbauer and Sjöstrand state that Sweden has disregarded its obligations by not signing the ‘Council of Europe Convention Against Sport Manipulation’.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand, as representatives of Swedish betting and football, emphasise that the European Convention has developed specific mechanisms and stakeholder commitments on how to build a national sports integrity forum in which 51 countries have successfully engaged in data, knowledge and information co-sharing.
Sweden is officially the only Scandinavian country not to participate in the honesty schemes of the European Convention: ‘Among the countries that have not yet signed the Convention, we already have companies from Malta, Turkey and Romania, among others,’
Sjöstrand and Hofbauer concluded: “The council against match-fixing has been active for almost two years but has not yet become the powerful tool against match-fixing that we both believed and hoped for.”
“Remember that match-fixing is not an innocent little crime, it is a crime that not only poses a threat to sports but also to society at large as a source of funding for criminal networks”