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Sweden’s police have appointed a new working group to oversee the “growing social problem” of sports corruption, with a particular focus on match-fixing.

Sports corruption on the rise

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Following the release of a new report on sports corruption, Swedish police concluded that “organised crime continues to gain ground,” as criminals expand the ways in which they can profit from corruption in sports.

With growth in the global betting industry generally, as well as expanded interest in betting on lower leagues and women’s sports, the opportunities for match-fixing are expanding, the report suggested.

While some statistics have pointed to a reduction in match-fixing in recent years, the police suggest this may be down to criminals more effectively hiding their activities.

On the other hand, the police added that the numbers of sport-related crimes being reported is expected to increase as awareness of sports corruption more generally improves.

Football most vulnerable

Sports corruption is most widespread in football, the report said, with players, referees and more being recruited for criminal activities on an ongoing basis.

Vulnerabilities in individuals – such as gambling addictions which can be exploited by criminals for their own gain – and in society are “systematically exploited in order to complete the crime and generate criminal profits,” according to the police.

The force added that growth in the popularity of women’s football risks increasing interest among criminal groups in the future.

In addition, criminals especially target younger individuals from socio-economically weaker areas, who the police say are easier to exploit for financial gain.

Tackling the problem

“Sport stands for values ​​such as integrity, team spirit and fair play. But it is also about large sums of money, which in turn means that criminal actors become interested and see opportunities here as well,” said Per Engström, head of the Swedish police’s national operational department.

“It is clear to us in the Swedish police that criminal actors choose to advance their positions in various arenas where they can see financial gains.

“From the police, we have ongoing investigations in the area, but in order for us to deal with this in society, it is necessary that we work together to prevent crime at all levels,” Engström concluded.

Sweden’s national police therefore intends to work more closely with local police, sporting organisations, and companies including data providers such as Sportradar and betting operators, to continue its work against match-fixing and sports corruption.

The report follows on from news released earlier this month, that the Swedish Gambling Authority is set to receive a three-year funding boost to assist it in tackling illegal gambling and match-fixing.

The regulator will experience an increase of SEK10.8m in 2024, escalating to an annual budget of SEK15.6m for 2025 and SEK18.6m for 2026.

Part of the reason for the funding boost is to help the SGA align with the requirements of the Macolin Convention, a multilateral treaty that aims to prevent, detect, and punish match fixing in sport.

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