What is match-fixing and gambling in sport?
Put simply, match-fixing is dishonest activity to make sure that one team or individual wins a particular sports match. Under the Crimes Act 1961, match-fixing is the manipulation of the overall result of a sports match or racing event (or any event within the match or event) with intent to influence a betting outcome.
The emergence of match-fixing would present a significant threat to the integrity, value and growth of New Zealand sport and our international reputation. Match-fixing cuts at the heart of sport, which is based on mutually agreed rules and fair play.
Sports betting agencies offer the opportunity for high sums to be gambled on sporting events with the prospect of very high returns. It is important to understand that betting itself is a legitimate pursuit, but illegal or fraudulent betting is not.
The main reason people get involved in match-fixing and manipulating games is for personal or financial gain. It generally involves contacts between gamblers, players, team officials, and/or referees, and has serious implications for sport at all levels.
Match-fixing and competition manipulation conduct includes the following:
- deliberately determining or taking actions to remove or significantly reduce the element of chance involved in the result of a match, an occurrence within a match, a points spread, or any other element of a match
- deliberate underperformance by athletes
- withdrawal from a match for non-genuine reasons
- attempting to influence or influencing a sports official regarding the outcome of a match
- a sports official deliberately misapplying the rules of a match
- interference with play, equipment or playing conditions
- abuse of insider information to support a bet or the making of a bet regarding a match.
Why we should care
Match-fixing and the associated corruption that stems from it, is not limited to professional or high-performance sport. Match-fixing can happen at local matches and tournaments and no sport can be said to be immune from match-fixing in some form.
A real New Zealand example shows that sports administrators and coaches fear the risk of match-fixing in New Zealand football has escalated as lower grade games with players as young as 15 attract millions of dollars in bets on international online gambling sites.
Harmful effects of gambling
There are arguments about the negative impact gambling may have in our community that apply to local sports and activities:
- Opening up amateur sport to online gambling just encourages a habit that has many negative side-effects.
- Sports betting is already a popular ‘drug of choice’ for problem gamblers and it is often young males who are most at risk.
- A lack of money in local leagues increases vulnerability to match-fixing attempts. The highly-paid elite player may be able to resist the temptation of a big bribe, but what about the club-level player on an apprentice’s wage or the volunteer referee who only gets reimbursed for costs?
- We should be protecting sport and the interests of the wider sporting community against match-fixing and corruption.
What your club/organisation can do
- Appoint someone in your club or organisation who would be responsible for a policy and a complaints process. The head of your club or organisation could take on the role of Integrity Officer.
- Encourage integrity and honesty and a sense of fair play at your club. Include these qualities in your club/organisation’s Code of Conduct.
- Provide education resources about match-fixing and gambling with members.
- Ban players and referees from betting on matches or competitions in which your club is involved.
- Get involved in campaigns to reduce gambling addiction.
Have the following policies in place:
If you come across someone doing something that could be match-fixing, contact your club or organisation’s Integrity Officer, or someone in a similar role, in the first instance. If you are unsure who the right person to talk to is, approach the head of your club or organisation. That person will talk to you about the information you have and what process should then be followed.
Adapted from playbytherules.net.au with permission.