Technology can be a double-edged sword when looking at the global issue of betting-related corruption and match fixing in football.
Betting and Technology
On one hand, the advancements in technology including e-commerce, live online betting or in-play betting are used by unscrupulous criminals based in unregulated betting markets like Asia to place bets anonymously from their smart mobile phone during football matches in other continents like Europe. Organised criminals based for example in the Philippines, can leverage their links with European mafias to undertake their corrupt operations to abuse the betting systems due to the differences in the legal status of sport betting in different countries (Forrest 2016).
Match fixing in football is not an isolated issue and there are other related activities where football players, referees, league officials and club owners get involved for different reasons including gambling addictions and sporting success goals (Harvey and Levi 2016). The main difference with the rest of these other activities is that corrupt, gambling-related match fixing relies on technology and online legal loopholes for the purpose of taking advantage of the betting markets:
Integrity and Technology
On the other hand, Right Holders such as FIFA and UEFA, Integrity and Technology service providers like Sportradar and Perform Group with the information from hundreds of bookmakers and their Analysts, and the support from Law Enforcement Agencies such as Interpol and Europol use technology in the first instance to detect and report match fixing.
Education and Technology
Technology has also an important role in preventing any wrongdoing as a complement to the education received by players, coaches and referees every season by European professional football stakeholders like FIFPro via face-to-face workshops and online e-learning tutorials. Another role of technology is facilitating players, coaches and referees reporting immediately to FIFA or UEFA via online forms and whistleblowing mobile apps like the Finish ‘Player’s Red Button’ or Sportradar’s RADAR.
Online e-learning tutorials and mobile apps should be tailored to each league depending on the levels of corruption and depending on the personal circumstances of each player (Harvey and Levi 2014). As illustrated on the research by Dr Harvey and nine professional footballers’ associations among nearly 2,000 players, player’s experience and their educational needs differ broadly from country to country and between leagues (Harvey and Levi 2014). Therefore, bespoke and personalised tutorials and apps will have a greater impact on football players’ integrity education.
In my view, players’ data regularly updated via online questionnaires should be a requirement for Right Holders to ensure that the education provided stays relevant and keeps them ahead of criminals. Moreover, adding a gamification element will make online learning more engaging for young football players.