For information only - not an official document

15 December 2019

Corruption and sport

Growing risk of sport being exploited for illicit gain, more action needed to safeguard sport from corruption and crime, promoting integrity in sport

ABU DHABI, 15 December (UN Information Service) - Sport captivates us: billions play and watch sport globally. It is supposed to be about fair play and integrity as well as physical endeavour, yet it is increasingly being exploited for illicit and often illegal gain. Specifically, these threats include match-fixing and illegal betting, but sport has also been undermined by the infiltration of organized crime.

Illegal betting and match-fixing have become a huge transnational business worth billions of dollars, threatening the credibility of sport. With the rise of online gambling, more people have a direct economic interest in sport competitions which could be linked to the rise in match-fixing. As sport has become more commercial, there are more lucrative gains to be made from sports-related betting. The globalized financial system offers numerous opportunities to transnational criminals to launder the proceeds of these crimes.

As sport is not immune from the threats posed by corruption and crime the international community has realized it needs to increase its efforts to safeguard sport and strengthen integrity in sport.

 "Together we can promote integrity, stop criminals from exploiting sport for illicit gain and harness the power of sport as a force for development and peace," says UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

At the seventh session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Vienna, States Parties adopted resolution 7/8 on corruption in sport.  It represents a significant milestone and covers a wide range of issues including illegal betting, whistleblowing, good governance and competition manipulation.

What UNODC does to tackle corruption in sport

Through its Global Programme Safeguarding Sport from Corruption and Crime, UNODC is working to safeguard sport from corruption and crime through raising awareness, capacity building and technical assistance activities designed for sport organizations and representatives of national criminal justice institutions. UNODC's main role in this area is to support effective implementation of resolution 7/8 focusing in particular on competition manipulation, illegal betting, money laundering, infiltration of sport by organized crime, cooperation between sport and criminal justice authorities, bribery, conflicts of interest, governance of sport organizations and reporting mechanisms.

UNODC is working strongly with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), INTERPOL and the European Commission. The Office has also developed strong partnerships and cooperation with the Asian Football Confederation, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), International Cricket Council, Tennis Integrity Unit, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and World Rugby, amongst others, and is a founding partner of the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport.

Sport has great potential to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, so UNODC convened a conference on Safeguarding Sport from Corruption in Vienna in September 2019, co-sponsored by the Russian Federation and Italy. It brought together more than 270 participants from Member States, sports organizations and other stakeholders to share good practices in terms of implementing resolution 7/8 on corruption in sport.

The meeting also discussed legal and law enforcement aspects of tackling corruption in sport, raising awareness about partnerships such as the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS), advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women in sport, addressing corruption risks linked to major sports events, strengthening governance in sport, and tackling competition manipulation and highlighting ways to stop illegal betting.

UNODC working in partnership with the International Olympic Committee

With the realization that many of the most profitable illegal activities involve a strong international dimension, UNODC and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed an agreement to fight competition manipulation and related corruption in sport.

Since June 2018, UNODC and the IOC, in strong collaboration with other partners such as INTERPOL, have helped deliver multiple sport integrity workshops, for the benefit of law enforcement and sport organization officials from Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Japan, Uruguay, and Qatar.

UNODC and the IOC have also developed a number of guides and studies, including Model Criminal Law Provisions for the Criminalization of Competition Manipulation, as well as a study on the same issue (2016) and most recently developed and launched a handbook to help detect wrongdoing in sport, called 'Reporting Mechanisms in Sport: A Practical Guide for Development and Implementation', published in October 2019.

The handbook provides guidance for sports organizations, governments and others in establishing and implementing mechanisms for reporting potential breaches of integrity in sport particularly manipulation of competitions. Ultimately it aims to enhance the detection of threats to sport to protect clean athletes and fair competition.

General Conference of the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport (IPACS)

On Sunday 15 December, one day before the opening of the eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties, there will be the General Conference of International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS) organized by UNODC, hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dignitaries attending the event include: a high-level representative from UAE; Thomas Bach, President, International Olympic Committee; John Brandolino, Director, Division for Treaty Affairs, UNODC; Marin Mrčela, President, Group of States against Corruption, Council of Europe; and Jeffrey Schlagenhauf, Deputy Secretary-General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The event will include exchanges between experts on: corruption in procurement relating to sporting events and infrastructure; ensuring integrity in the selection of major sporting events; good governance principles to mitigate the risk of corruption; and enhancing effective cooperation between law enforcement, criminal justice authorities and sport organizations.

Side event on Safeguarding Sport from Corruption

On the margins of the Conference of the States Parties meeting in Abu Dhabi, on Monday 16 December, a side event bringing together representatives from the Governments of Italy and the Russian Federation, International Olympic Committee, Asian Football Confederation and the International Cricket Council will discuss key issues linked to corruption in sport and raise awareness about these issues in the context of the draft resolution " Safeguarding Sport from Corruption" which will be negotiated at the CoSP.

The benefits of sport for peace and development are at risk if we do not strengthen integrity in sport and remain vigilant against those who would exploit sport for illicit gain.

Sport has the power to change perceptions, break down racial, political and gender barriers as well as to inspire people. The role of sport as an enabler of sustainable development has been recognized in the Agenda 2030 but for the United Nations to harness its potential to promote peace and achieve the SDGs, it is vital that it is not undermined by corruption.

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Further information for the media:

Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Conference website of the Host Country:

Link to conference webcast:

For further information please contact:

Sonya Yee,
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990
Email: sonya.yee[at]


Anne Thomas,
Information Officer, UN Information Service
Mobile: (+971) 549978506
Email: anne.thomas[at]

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