CCES poses pan-Canadian model solution to tackle match-fixing threat

Experts have warned Canada's lack of specific laws could create problems

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) has proposed a pan-Canadian model to address the “real issue” of match-fixing in sports.

Compared to other countries and jurisdictions, Canada and Ontario have so far remained relatively unscathed; last October, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported that there were 76 cases worldwide of suspicious sports betting in Q3 2022, but not a single one originated from Canada.

Additionally, as reported by Covers, the integrity division of Sportradar said the number of suspicious matches around the world hit 1,212 in 2022, up 307 from 2021.

North America, however, was one of just two regions in which the number of suspicious matches had not risen.

Despite these statistics, experts have warned against complacency as the potential for activity in this area remains high.

Speaking at the 2023 Symposium on Competition Manipulation and Gambling in Sport on Wednesday, Jeremy Luke, President and CEO of CCES, said: “It is coming at the sporting landscape. And we have an obligation, all of us here in the sport community, to act on this issue.”

CCES has already made moves to formalise a national response; the body is currently running a pilot project alongside the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to help national sport organizations effectively manage the threat of competition manipulation. Six organizations – Badminton Canada, Canada Basketball, Canada Soccer, Curling Canada, Racquetball Canada, and Squash Canada – have signed up to the project, which runs until December 2023.

According to Luke, the early feedback from the pilot project signals a need for a common policy for dealing with match-fixing.

He continued: “Which certainly leads us at the CCES to think there’s an opportunity to have a pan-Canadian model, where that type of policy would apply to all sports in the same sort of way that the Canadian Anti-Doping Program does.

“I think the challenge right now, though, is getting a commitment from sport organizations beyond those who are part of the pilot to recognize this as an issue and to want to support a common approach going forward and find the funding to support that approach.”

Professor Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer who has emerged as a global leader in the fight against match-fixing, echoed Luke’s sentiments, calling for greater acknowledgement of the issue.

“They need to recognize the fact that this is a coming problem. And it’s in its infancy here, but it’s here, and it’s going to get bigger.”

McLaren suggested approaching national sports organizations and developing a “robust” code for match-fixing, which should be paired with sanctions for those breaking the rules.

“You have to rigorously enforce it.”

He added: “Canada is not immune to the global threat of competition manipulation in sport driven by the adoption of single-event sports betting and fueled by a grey market that persists despite the regulated market. Government, regulators, gaming operators, and the sport community must work together to develop an integrated regulatory framework to mitigate these risks.

“This is critical to better educate and support Canadian athletes who are vulnerable to bad actors.”

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