betting threatening Games
THE International Olympic Committee
(IOC) is to continue its battle against the threat
of mafia elements controlling illegal betting
invading the London Games.
Concern is growing that athletes
could become involved in fixing results or segments
of various competitions, in complicity with or under
pressure from betting networks with no qualms over
extorting athletes’ families to achieve their
objectives. Those involved in this battle have
stated that these actions are very difficult to
uncover, and thus will have to be on the alert at
the scene of events themselves.
The IOC has prohibited athletes
participating and those accompanying them from
placing bets during the Games, and is to open a
telephone hotline through which to expose any
A working group was set up in March
2011 to combat corruption and ensure clean play in
the London Olympics. In its recent third meeting in
Lausanne, Switzerland, members agreed that "sports
fraud must be considered a crime," and also
acknowledged that very little has been achieved in
eradicating this situation, where Internet is used
for direct payment transfers among the most powerful
For Christophe de Kepper, IOC
director-general, governments have much to do and
cooperation is needed among police and justice
systems worldwide to combat this harmful practice,
bearing in mind that the largest flows of illegal
bets come from Europe and the Far East.
INTERPOL estimates that this dirty
business moves approximately $140 billion annually,
with the consubstantial money laundering, more than
enough reason to create awareness of the danger
represented by these mafia and their economic power.
AS SERIOUS AS DOPING
Betters constitute a risk as serious
as doping for sports credibility and probably a
worse one, taking into account the sums of money
involved, De Kepper believes. For this reason he has
proposed a universal code of conduct for the Olympic
movement, to include athletes, judges and referees.
He also emphasized the need for governments to
realize the magnitude of the problem, mentioning
football and cricket as among the disciplines most
damaged by scandals involving fixed games.
On February 2, date of the Lausanne
meeting, and three days before the Super Bowl or
Super Cup, the final game of the American National
Football League (NFL), the U.S. District Attorney’s
Office closed 16 Internet pages directly
retransmitting sports competitions and other events
for illegal gain, pirate practices which operated
from February 2010 through January of this year.
Nine of them were operated by one man, known as
Ronaldo Solano, from Michigan.
In early 2012, Chris Eaton, head of
security for the International Federation of
Association Football (FIFA), stated in an interview
published on the FIFA webpage that people find it
unimaginable to utilize football for some kind of
personal fraud and this is the principal enemy in
the battle against this evil.
Eaton recalled that FIFA’s security
department was created after the South Africa 2010
World Cup to prevent these dirty dealings, but for
its work to be effective it essentially needs
precise information on players, judges, referees and
people threatened into manipulating the results of
games. The leading sports body of this discipline
promised to set up a resource to which people could
refer in anonymity, and detail any case of extortion.
Returning to the subject of the
London Olympics, six months prior to their
inauguration, the IOC assured that sports agencies
are receiving recommendations on how to protect
their athletes and those close to them from being
harassed by betting mafia. Although it has made
clear its intention to continue combating this
blight, some people are in favor of establishing an
independent body similar to the World Anti-Doping
Agency to address the issue.
In relation to security for the 2012
Olympics, 25,000 police are to be mobilized,
according to Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan
Police), in order to dissuade anyone attempting to
disrupt the event, as well as to combat organized
crime, the reselling of tickets on the illegal
market and falsifications.