03 November 2023

International research partnership to investigate corruption in sport

International research partnership to investigate corruption in sport

Neil Hall and David Lavallee sitting a sports lab with monitoring equipment in the background and Abertay University branding on the wall.

The extent of corruption and match fixing in global sport will be investigated as part of a new international research collaboration.

The Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Abertay University in Dundee is working with Western Sydney University in Australia on a project that is categorising criminal behaviour across a range of sports.

Following on from existing work to create a Sports Corruption Barometer tool in collaboration with Interpol, the research will seek to uncover which governing bodies are performing most effectively in investigating match fixing in their sports, and also look at emerging trends and tactics used by criminals to target players at all levels.

Led by Abertay’s Professor of Duty of Care in Sport, David Lavallee and Western Sydney’s Dr Neil Hall, the research will consider the requirements set out in The Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (the Macolin Convention) - an international treaty and the only rule of international law on the manipulation of sports competitions. 

Corruption in sport is under increasing public scrutiny, with high profile athletes regularly making media headlines in cases relating to match fixing and illegal betting patterns.

Prof Lavallee said the true extent of the issue is likely to go well beyond elite level.

He added: “Sport is under attack from a range of corrupting forces, such as doping, gambling, and match fixing and these issues are threatening sport globally.  Match fixing and corruption are issues that can infiltrate any level of sport from the Olympics all the way down to grassroots. To protect the integrity of the sports we love, governing bodies must address this matter head on and send a clear message that anyone engaging in this type of criminal activity has no place in the sector. By working in collaboration with international research partners like Western Sydney who are committed to investigating this issue we can share our expertise, insights and information and support organisations to improve their operations.”
Dr Hall, a senior lecturer in social work at Western Sydney who has recently been on sabbatical at Abertay said: "It is exciting to be collaborating with world leaders in this knowledge area, and it can provide impetus for countries like Australia to fully sign up to the Macolin Convention. The value of analysing and reporting these issues has significant benefit for all parties involved in sport: the governing bodies and administrators, players and coaches, fans and those people whose lives are harmed as a result of gambling losses."

Prof Lavallee leads on Abertay’s Sports Forensic research stream which uses technology and an audit-based approach to give organisations the tools to prevent, detect and respond to misconduct in sport.

Previous projects have included work with Police Scotland and the Serious Organised Crime Task Force on The Fix, an innovative online resource and information pack for coaches and anyone involved in the coaching of young people to help divert them away from match fixing.

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