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UNODC report uncovers $1.7trn corruption, organised crime in global sports

“While corruption in sports is not a new phenomenon – fraudulent activities in the running of sports institutions and competitions have been documented from the times of the ancient Olympic Games.

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has uncovered a staggering 1.7 trillion dollars, which is estimated to be wagered on illicit betting market every year.

A statement issued in Abuja on Saturday quoted a new report by the UN office which showed a staggering scale, manifestation, and complexity of corruption and organised crime in sports at the global, regional, and national levels.

The report, which is the first-ever Global Report on Corruption in Sports flags urgent need for unified, international response to corrupt practices in sport, according to the statement.

“Developed in partnership with nearly 200 experts from across governments, sport organisations, the private sector, academia, and related stakeholders, it is the most in-depth review of its type to date.

“It offers a playbook to effectively tackle crime and corruption in sports by setting out a range of concrete policy considerations.

“While corruption in sports is not a new phenomenon – fraudulent activities in the running of sports institutions and competitions have been documented from the times of the ancient Olympic Games.

“The past two decades have witnessed a substantial increase in criminal activities within this area.

“Indeed, globalisation, a huge influx of money, the rapid growth of legal and illegal sports betting and technological advances are transforming the way sport is played and consumed making it increasingly attractive to criminal networks seeking to exploit sport for illicit profit,” it said.

The Global Report also breaks down an extensive range of issues, analysing the role of illegal betting, competition manipulation, abuse in sports, the susceptibility of major sporting events to corruption and the involvement of organised crime, among others.

It also highlights the changing landscape of sports and its relation to corrupt practices, the existing initiatives to tackle the problem, issues related to detecting and reporting wrongdoing, as well as how existing legal frameworks could be applied to address corruption within this area.

“The Global Report comes out at a pivotal time, with increasing emphasis being placed on anti-corruption efforts within all sectors, including the sporting community, it said.

“The report is launched ahead of next week’s biennial UN anti-corruption gathering, the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from Dec. 13 to Dec.17.

“Designed for both governments and sports organisations, the Global Report highlights the urgent need to:

“Strengthen legal, policy and institutional frameworks to prevent and respond to different manifestations of corruption and crime in sports at the global, regional, and national levels.

“Develop and implement comprehensive anti-corruption policies in sports with a focus on addressing corruption linked to the organisation of major sports events, competition manipulation, illegal betting, and the involvement of organised crime in sports.

“Promote and increase cooperation and the exchange of information and good practices among sport organisations, crime prevention and criminal justice authorities, law- and policymakers.

“Enhance the understanding of the interlinkages between corruption and organised crime in sports and develop capacities of relevant government entities and sport organisations to tackle them,” it said. (NAN)