By Luis Lidon
Vienna, Dec 9 (EFE).- According to the first-ever Global Report on Corruption in Sport, illegal bets add up to around $1.7 trillion dollars each year, the equivalent of what a developed economy like Italy generates annually, the United Nations warned Thursday.
The report revealed the “staggering scale, manifestation, and complexity of corruption and organized crime in sport at the global, regional, and national levels,” and the agency called for an international response to deal with the “malpractice and fraud across the sector.”
Although corruption in sport is not a new phenomenon, the findings suggest fraudulent activity has increased considerably in the last two decades.
Globalization and technology have revolutionized the way in which bets are made, paving the way for innovation in organized crime.
Despite the fact that the media focuses on sports stars and their millionaire contracts, the reality for most professional athletes is one of precariousness making many vulnerable to exploitation by criminal networks.
The International Tennis Federation claims that only 600 of the nearly 14,000 players who compete in its tournaments earned enough money to cover their expenses, the report said.
Although between 2010 and 2018 the revenues of the five major European soccer leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France) soared by up to 75%, football competitions globally, especially in developing countries, recorded a dip in revenues of up to 16%.
The outlook is particularly grim in lower profile sports, and lockdowns and the cancellation of competitions due to Covid-19 have exacerbated the situation, according to the UN.
Lower-ranking competitions are more susceptible to malpractice due to lax monitoring and many of these have become the feeding ground of organized criminal groups that want to fix results by financially exploiting some of the athletes.