By Alex Miller
21 June 2011
The Football Association’s concerns over gambling-related corruption has prompted the governing body to hire external expert advisers to deal with the threat.
Sportingintelligence can reveal the FA has already started a tender process that will end with a contract for an independent private-sector firm to run an education programme for players, match officials and other employees at English clubs.
The FA has a disciplinary unit whose remit includes handling sporadic reports of fixed matches in England but its work does not include prevention, only dealing with reports of incidents.
Match-fixing is now widely accepted to be the major threat to football’s integrity (Fifa’s internal politics and corruption aside).
English football has not had as prominent a problem with fixing as many European or Asian nations, although a number of lower league games in England are strongly suspected to have been fixed in recent years – albeit not by organised international gangs.
It is understood the FA hopes to hire an external company before the 2011-12 season starts, but they are not working to a definite timeline. The ‘anti-corruption training’ will likely involve all 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League.
The FA is among a number of governing bodies considering strengthening their anti-corruption measures in the wake of the Pakistan cricket spot-fixing allegations.
In cricket, the ECB recently hired outside experts Integrity in Sport, following the release of Sir Paul Condon’s official report into corruption in cricket, which contained the allegation the sport’s problem began in the English county game during the 1970’s.
Integrity in Sport Chairman Mark Davies, said: “There is a lot that can be done to ensure the regulations sports put in place to fight corruption are fit for purpose and that participants understand them. Regarding the FA, we have sent through a proposal on how we can help and met up with them.”
Matthew Johnson, the FA’s Head of Regulatory Legal Advice, has admitted a movement within the game to introduce new rules in the wake of the Pakistan cricket scandal and amid growing concern about the reputational issues posed by spot and match-fixing allegations.
The FA is also debating the re-introduction of a blanket ban on any football betting by professional and semi-professional players. Currently, footballers are banned only from betting on matches or competitions in which their team are or have been involved.