During a meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council which was held in Brussels on 26-27 November 2012, Member States discussed Council Conclusions regarding proposals for establishing a strategy to combat the manipulation of sports results and prevent fraud, notably by combatting and eliminating match-fixing.

Malta’s delegation was led by the Hon. Clyde Puli, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sports, who affirmed to European Sports Ministers that Malta considers the fight against match-fixing as an area of priority.  In this context, he welcomed the general principles of the draft Council Conclusions on establishing a strategy to combat the manipulation of sport results that were being discussed. The Hon. Clyde Puli expressed Malta’s full support for the scope of the draft Conclusions, which was to emphasise the crucial nature of good governance principles to prevent match-fixing, and to safeguard the integrity of sport.

Despite Malta’s support for the scope of the draft Council Conclusions, the Maltese delegation emphasised that the provisions of a particular paragraph of the draft Council Conclusions had repercussions that went beyond the intended scope of the text and impinged on the regulation and operation of online gaming. This would have potentially negatively affected Malta’s thoroughly regulated online gaming industry.

Notwithstanding various constructive efforts and proposals put forward by the Maltese delegation as well as the European Commission, seeking to find a suitable compromise that fulfilled both the scope of the fight against match fixing as well as respecting the political sensitivity of internal market matters, no solution was acceptable to all Member States. As a result, the meeting was unable to reach an agreement on the Council Conclusions on establishing a strategy to combat the manipulation of sport results.

Malta remains committed to continue working within the relevant EU fora in order to seek a strong European strategy in the fight against match-fixing, thus safeguarding the integrity of sports while at same time defending the interests of its online gaming industry. Furthermore, at a national level, Malta, through the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, continues to act decisively in the fight against match-fixing, and to this end has concluded Memoranda of Understanding with the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and the European Sports Security Association, specifically addressing collaboration with their early warning systems in order to alert the relevant associations on suspicious betting patterns on specific sport events.

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