Parallel sporting and criminal match-fixing investigations: The Anglo-Welsh approach

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 By Kevin Carpenter

From advising clients and presenting on the topic of match-fixing around the world the one area that causes the most controversy and raises numerous questions is that of the relationship between sports law and the criminal law.

In practice this means how allegations of match-fixing are investigated and prosecuted both by sports governing bodies ('SGB') and law enforcement (principally the police). I spoke about this area of match-fixing policy, amongst others, in a recent podcast recording I did with the University of Westminster in front of a live audience. During this podcast I mentioned a document that was signed only two days before Christmas, the 'Protocol on the Appropriate Handling of Incidents Falling Under both Criminal and Football Regulatory Jurisdiction' ('the Protocol'). The signatories to this document are:

  • The Crown Prosecution Service ('CPS');
  • The Association of Chief Police Officers ('ACPO');
  • The Football Association ('the FA'); and
  • The Football Association of Wales ('FAW').

The Potocol seeks to address, in a formal manner, the thorny issue of concurrent jurisdiction and proceedings where there is both a regulatory aspect and also a criminal element under the current UK criminal regime to football incidents. Having recommended to SGBs and national law enforcement agencies around the world to enter into such agreements allegations of match manipulation / betting integrity I was highly intrigued when this document came to my attention. However, upon reading this Protocol, or more accurately in legal parlance the "Memorandum of Understanding" ('MoU'), my enthusiasm soon was tempered. In this blog I do not intend to critique each line of the Protocol but highlight some of the salient points.

It is important to state at this juncture that this Protocol is not intended to cover anything to do with hooliganism or spectator behaviour, this is covered by a range of other legislative and regulatory measures. The scope of the Protocol is to cover conduct by "individual Participants [and] is primarily aimed at on-field incidents" rather than those off-field (Section 1). I understand that when this particular document was drafted and negotiated that match-fixing is one of the "on-field incidents" that the Protocol is intended to cover.

The six purposes of the Protocol (Section 2) all have close communication and co-operation at their heart. It is my opinion that one of the overriding considerations for SGBs when dealing with the many challenges of concurrent proceedings for match-fixing related allegations is to think in terms of flexibility versus control. In all instances of suspected match manipulation it is imperative for SGBs to be able to act quickly to preserve the reputation and perception of integrity of their sport. SGBs have the opportunity to do this due to the differences in the standards of proof applied for sporting and criminal proceedings. Sections 3 and 8 of the Protocol discuss this in more detail.

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About the Author

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.

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