Swedish betting operator targets match fixing


Sport across Europe may be closed down at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in Sweden, a major betting operator is taking the opportunity to strengthen its commitment to taking on match fixing.

Svenska Spel, the state-run operator, has announced that it will be taking its new match-fixing education initiative to 2,328 football clubs across the country.

The focus of the initiative is to provide clubs, athletes and organisations with a deeper understanding of the dangers and risks of match-fixing. The scheme includes information that will help individuals to be able to spot signs of problem gambling and will be introduced at all clubs who have signed up to Grasroten, the Svenska Spel sponsorship scheme.

Speaking about the initiative, the CEO at Svenska Spel, Patrik Hofbauer, said that athletes, who are closely associated with their sport, are a significantly a risk group when it comes to gambling harm:

“Research shows that athletes, who often live near the game, are a clear risk group for suffering from gambling problems. Therefore, in our cooperation agreements with the Swedish Sports Federation, we have investments in just gaming responsibility. This is such an important investment.”

Johan Claesson, who works as the Integrity Officer for the Swedish Football Association, said that match-fixing is a huge threat to football. He added that his organisation had come across signs of criminal elements attempting to influence the outcome of football matches at the lower levels of the game. He said that this was harder for the Swedish FA to tackle, and welcomed the initiative from Svenska Spel, their main sponsor to educate thousands of players at lower levels on the risks.

There has been an ongoing debate in Sweden over the relationship between betting and match-fixing, particularly at the amateur and junior levels. A number of betting operators in the country, along with sports organisations, have asked the Swedish gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, to provide clarification on what they describe as ‘grey areas’ in these aspects of football betting.

At the same time, the regulator has been aggressively enforcing the rules on accepting bets on age-group sports events. Last year, Spelinspektionen issued a series of fines and penalties against gambling firms for failures in this area. Most of those fines were upheld by a recent court decision but in many cases, the original fines were reduced. Meanwhile, further reforms to the Swedish legal and regulatory framework are expected at some point in 2020.

The Sustainability Manager for Svenska Spel, Kajsa Nylander, said that it was of growing importance for football organisations in Sweden to be fully aware of the issues of match fixing and sports integrity. He said that the betting industry had a lot of work to do if they were to gain the confidence of the Swedish people, as indicated in the 2020 Sustainable Brand Index. Svenska Spel, the leading gambling company in the survey was ranked 110th in the list of Sweden’s most sustainable brands.