ICSS making important strides - despite Richards idiocy

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Football News

It would be fair to suggest that Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards stole the show on the first day on the International Sport Security Conference in Doha.

Richards went on a quite startling rant about FIFA and UEFA stealing the game of football from England, before trivialising the strict anti-alcohol lows in Qatar - the hosts of the 2022 World Cup.

Then, to compound a miserable day for the Football Association board member, he suffered a spectacular fall into water feature, and had to be scooped out by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside.

However, when Richards was not splashing around in two inches of water, he was involved in some serious decision making - and will form part of an 'Scientific and Advisory Committee' to tackle the threat of match fixing in sport.

Yesterday, the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) and the Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne announced a partnership that intends to 'combat behaviour which contravenes principles of sporting integrity including match-fixing'.

"Our mission is to enhance security and safety in the world of sport by proactively addressing real issues and providing best-in-class training, research and advisory services," read a statement from Mohammed Hanzab, president of the ICSS.

"Sporting integrity is at the centre of our sport security efforts and this partnership will ensure that that we are able to provide expert advice to assist international sporting federations and bodies in their ongoing efforts to address the scourge of match-fixing and other illegal sporting activity.”

The threat of match-fixing has, of course, been at large in cricket and investigations into illegal activity have led to jail sentences for former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and teammates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield was also sentenced to four months in prison last month, having been found guilty of spot-fixing, whereby he took a payment of £6000 to concede at least 12 runs in an over in a match against Durham in 2009.

The above incidents were orchestrated by corrupt bookmakers offering significant sums not throw a match, but influence the outcomes of specific instances during a game.

Such are the variables in a game of cricket, it is far more susceptible to elements of fixing, but there is a the fear that the increase of 'in play' betting in football could encourage bookmakers to target impressionable young players.

Football has had its problems with match-fixing in the past - see the 2006 Calciopoli - but it has often been related to the wrongdoings of officials and administrators, rather than the conduct of players themselves.

With punters now able to place money on the number of corners in a match or the specific time a throw-in will be conceded, there is a market in football for corrupt bookmakers to exploit.

It would be naive to suggest, such are the financial rewards already available in football, players would not have their heads turned by the offer of even further monetary incentives.

It would also be foolish to claim that the game is completely clean at the present time, but the partnership between the ICSS and the Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne is positive step in a move to eradicate any form of illegal activity.

This initiative comes shortly after calls from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to prove he attempting to tackle corruption in football's governing body.

Last week, the Council of Europe passed a draft resolution urging FIFA to open an internal investigation to determine whether or not Blatter exploited his position in order to secure another term as president last year.

It is refreshing to see that not only the English FA has questioned the legitimacy of Blatter's accession to the FIFA throne and, along with the ICSS announcement, brings the concern of corruption in the game into sharp focus once again.

Both the ICSS and the Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne agreement and the Council of Europe should be praised for making strides to combat the threat of corruption, but only time will tell how much influence they can have.

Premier League

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