Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions [Macolin Convention]

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Publication Date March 2018
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Background information:

The purpose of this Convention is to prevent, detect, punish and discipline the manipulation of sports competitions, as well as enhance the exchange of information and national and international cooperation between the public authorities concerned, and with sports organisations and sports betting operators. The Convention calls on governments to adopt measures, including legislation, notably: prevent conflicts of interest in sports betting operators and sports organisations; encourage the sports betting regulatory authorities to fight against fraud, if necessary by limiting the supply of sports bets or suspending the taking of bets; fight against illegal sports betting, allowing to close or restrict access to the operators concerned and block financial flows between them and consumers.
Sports organisations and competition organisers are also required to adopt and implement stricter rules to combat corruption, sanctions and proportionate disciplinary and dissuasive measures in the event of offences, as well as good governance principles.

Recent years have shown time and again that sport is susceptible to scandals, and that a growing number of these are related to “match-fixing”. The phenomenon of the “manipulation of sports competitions” is neither confined to matches nor to the sole manipulation of the final outcome of a sports competition, but covers any intentional and improper alteration of the course or result of a sports competition in order to remove all or some of the uncertainty associated with this competition, with a view to obtaining an undue advantage for oneself or for others. The manipulation of sports competitions poses a challenge to the rule of law because it is linked to fraud, organised crime and corruption. Because it occurs in the sports sector and when linked to betting, the economic stakes are considerable. It also poses a threat to the future of sport as a social, cultural, economic and political practice, which is called into question every time doubts are raised about its integrity and values.

The Convention involves all stakeholders in the fight against manipulation of sports competitions, namely public authorities, sports organisations and sports betting operators. To ensure that the problem is addressed in a global context, it allows states which are not members of the Council of Europe to be become parties by the convention.

Preparing the Convention and ratification:

In fulfilling its mission to defend ethical sport, the Council of Europe has played a key role in coordinating policies in the fight against doping. In the 1980s, this work led to the opening for signature of the Anti-Doping Convention (1989, ETS No. 135), which regulated the fight against an emerging threat to the integrity of sport. In 2007, it was established the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (“EPAS”) and assigned it the task of developing standards to deal with topical issues in sport at a pan-European level and following them up. EPAS provided an opportunity to continue the Council of Europe’s standard-setting work and paved the way for targeted action in certain areas.

In the course of the 11th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport in December 2008, the issues of ethics and autonomy in sport were explored by EPAS in greater depth. It was at this conference that States made a clear political commitment to address issues relating to ethics in sport, in particular match-fixing, corruption and illegal sports betting. This led to the adoption at the 18th Council of Europe Informal Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport (September 2010), of the first resolution to deal specifically with the manipulation of sports results (Resolution No. 1 on promotion of the integrity of sport against the manipulation of results). In this resolution, Council of Europe member States are called upon to adopt effective policies and measures aimed at preventing and combating the manipulation of sports results in all sports.

While certain important aspects of corruption in sport are already covered by existing international conventions on corruption and organised crime, namely the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000) and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (2003), these international legal instruments do not specifically deal with cases involving manipulation of sports competitions, which may occur outside any transnational crime network.

The Secretariat of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe was invited, in co-operation with other national and international bodies, to carry out a feasibility study on the possibility of adopting a legal instrument on match-fixing. The study concluded stating the usefulness of an international agreement in the field, since an international covenant allows commonly agreed standards and principles to be set in order to prevent, detect and sanction the manipulation of sports competitions.

After the EU Commission issued in 2012 a recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the participation in the negotiations for the Macolin Convention, the Council of Europe issued two decision which authorised the Commission to participate. Decision 2013/304 authorised the Commission to negotiate with the exception of matters related to cooperation in criminal matters and police cooperation, which are covered by the other decision.

Following the authorisation to negotiate, in 2015 the European Commission issued a proposal for a Council Decision on the signing of the Macolin Convention with regard to matters not related to substantive criminal law and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. In 2017, the EU Commission issued a proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Macolin Convention with regard to matters related to substantive criminal law and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Related Links
Council of Europe: Text of the Macolin Convention
Council of Europe: Explanatory Report on the Macolin Convention
Macolin Convention Website

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