We spoke to Sportradar Integrity Services Senior Vice President of Global Operations Tom Mace about the company’s match fixing of football and sports betting and control systems.
According to him, since its inception in 2005, Sportradar Integrity Services work has detected almost 9,000 suspicious matches, causing more than 770 sporting disciplinary sanctions, with approximately 330 of these occurring since the start of 2022.
See the complete and exclusive interview with Tom Mace
iGaming Brazil – What differences and similarities do you see between the European and Brazilian sports betting markets?
Tom Mace – The European betting market has enjoyed regulatory stability for over a decade. Countries such as Spain, France and the United Kingdom have established specific legislation for the sector, creating a solid regulatory environment for operators and bettors.
Each of these countries has its own requirements for obtaining licenses, ensuring bettor safety and combating illegal activities. With the advancement of market regulation, Brazil can position itself alongside nations that already legislate and have specific laws focused on sports betting.
iGaming Brazil – What does Sportradar do in Brazil to combat match-fixing and protect integrity?
Tom Mace – Sportradar Integrity Services is a leading provider of monitoring, intelligence, education and consulting solutions for sports organizations, state authorities and law enforcement agencies to support them in the fight against match-fixing and corruption.
At the heart of the company’s betting monitoring is our Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS), powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which analyzes more than 900,000 matches across more than 70 sports.
UFDS uses all of the sports betting data that Sportradar offers its betting operator clients as its core business.
All matches and competitions offered by the company are monitored, providing visibility into betting patterns, odds movements and enabling the qualification of all data.
Our AI-powered UFDS processes over 500 data points per match, including account-level betting data to help confirm suspicious micro-level betting activity that would otherwise be undetectable.
This betting data covers more than 400 global bookmakers and brands, where more than 20 million betting tickets are processed per day.
This betting data visibility is then used to detect different types of match fixing not reflected in traditional odds movements, and thanks to advances in Sportradar’s AI, last year 51% of suspicious matches detected by Sportradar Integrity Services were biased. or fully – detected through betting data monitored by the account.
The model is periodically retrained based on the latest data to ensure it can evolve and detect new methods of match-fixing, which is critical for a bet monitoring solution.
In 2022 alone, we detected 1,212 suspicious matches in global sports through our UFDS, 775 of which were in football. 152 suspicious departures were detected in Brazil alone, the most of all countries in 2022.
The constant threat of match-fixing is there for all to see, and we at Sportradar are doing our part to detect match-fixing, prevent and investigate it, and support our partners by helping to sanction and prosecute the individuals involved.
CBF and our other partners in Brazil work closely with us to help achieve these goals, but the fight continues with constant evolution, both from match fixers adapting their methods, and those of us in the anti-match fixing space in constant development. and improve our technology, tools and skills to combat the threat they pose.
Our mission as a company is to improve the way the world experiences sport and so our focus is to support our customers and partners to provide better engagement with their sports and make them more accessible and safe for fans all around the world.
iGaming Brazil – Are the measures taken in Brazil sufficient to prevent these cases? What do you think should be done by the authorities with the people involved?
Tom Mace – The measures that can be taken to try to help prevent match-fixing differ on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation. That said, Sportradar Integrity Services uses a three-stage lifecycle of match-fixing approach when attempting to combat match-fixing.
The first of these revolves around prevention, and Sportradar Integrity Services organizes educational workshops for partner clubs and leagues around the world.
This education details the dangers of engaging in match fixing, as well as introduces the audience of players, managers and coaches to the modus operandi of match fixers, and gives these individuals an understanding of best practices in relation to reporting any approaches .
Bet monitoring and detection is also a crucial tool for preventing match-fixing, as discussed previously. Federations across all sports must utilize betting monitoring, which Sportradar Integrity Services provides free of charge through UFDS.
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved and the education of individuals, it is crucial that visibility is maintained in the global match-fixing arena, and betting monitoring is critical to ensure that if a problem exists, it is detected.
There is also a need for intelligence and investigation. Sportradar’s Intelligence and Investigations team is a sophisticated intelligence unit offering due diligence, monitoring and investigative products and services that provide tailored support to mitigate risks and threats across a wide range of issues facing sporting bodies.
While it is necessary to impose sanctions against individuals directly involved in match-fixing, to prevent this from occurring, the source of the manipulation needs to be identified and warning signs identified. diligence with players, coaches, investors and sponsors through this intelligence work.
Heavier penalties for those found guilty of match-fixing, whether by their sports federation or in a court of law, could also help. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not even possible because countries do not have the legal framework to prosecute match-fixing. And yes, greater cooperation is also essential in the fight against match-fixing.
Networks like the recently launched Sportradar Integrity Exchange are crucial as they bring together sports betting industry stakeholders to pool resources and exchange information, allowing corruption to be tackled from different aspects of the industry, which can only be a good thing. in this long-lasting struggle.
These three solutions are crucial components of a successful strategy against match-fixing; however, it is the way in which the specific sports federation, or preferably, a national regulator, implements its strategies, that has the greatest impact.
A truly holistic approach is crucial, with integrity service providers, sports bodies, bookmakers and law enforcement/investigating authorities working together and sharing important information about those behind match-fixing attempts, identifying suspected punters, gamblers corrupt and those individuals who actually orchestrate attempts to manipulate results. correspondence handling.
Although Brazil is well supported by the UFDS in its monitoring and detection solutions, the framework for education and prevention and intelligence and investigation is still relatively early in its development.
By organizing education and prevention workshops nationwide across different leagues and competitions, accumulating knowledge and education about match-fixing will help combat the problem at its source.
However, carrying out intelligence and investigative projects, such as mapping the orchestrators of known match-fixing and carrying out due diligence checks on sponsors and owners of clubs and competitions, will again help the fight against match-fixing.
iGaming Brazil – Have you recently been called to participate in the football CPI? How was that?
Tom Mace – Yes, yes, and Sportradar reiterates its commitment to preserving sporting integrity in Brazilian sport and its total availability to collaborate with the work of the CPIFUTE designated by the Committee.
iGaming Brazil – You commented in an interview with ESPN: “Brazil has a ‘perfect storm’ to receive big bets” while warning in the same interview: “The constant threat of match-fixing is in sight and at Sportradar we are doing our part to help detect match-fixing.” How does Sportaradar do this?
The Brazilian football league system is a series of interconnected leagues, with two distinct pyramids: the national pyramid and the state pyramid.
As a result, there are many more leagues and competitions than in other countries, and a large number of these leagues are offered for betting on a global scale.
The breadth of betting coverage that lower football leagues in Brazil are able to generate is significant and as such the opportunity exists for match fixers to target these matches for corrupt betting purposes.
Globally, many competitions below the highest levels of national football lack integrity protections such as player education, while lower financial rewards continue to skew risk/reward as some players face potential bribes. which match -fixers are able to offer as more attractive.
Given the number of lower-tier leagues in Brazil and the lack of constant preventive measures, and the historical lack of regulation on sports betting in the country, the internal configuration of football in Brazil has allowed it to become a target.
As described previously, Sportradar’s integrity solutions are comprehensive and well-established.
As a result, Sportradar Integrity Services is trusted by over 180 sports partners to provide betting monitoring for over 70 sports, not just CONMEBOL and CBF, but also major global bodies such as the International Olympic Committee, N.B.A. and FIFA.
Additionally, Sportradar works closely with law enforcement agencies, national platforms and state authorities, and gaming regulators.
Overall, Sportradar Integrity Services’ work has resulted in the detection and identification of almost 9,000 suspicious matches since its inception in 2005. In turn, this has led to the administration of more than 770 sporting disciplinary sanctions, with approximately 330 of these occurring since inception from 2022.
iGaming Brazil – Do you think this practice tends to end in Brazil with regulation or will the problem only increase?
Tom Mace – The reasons for the continued impact that match-fixing is having on global sport – including in Brazil – are complex, but there are several important risk factors, with the financial concerns of players and their clubs and the lack of preventative measures and integrity protections at the forefront.
Economic instability in clubs and leagues and its resulting impact on the salaries and well-being of players, coaches, managers and even club executives can make them more susceptible to match-fixing approaches by organized crime groups and other opportunists as a way to compensate for lost revenue.
Furthermore, countries and regions still have gaps in terms of legislation, in terms of sporting codes or criminal laws. Official agencies and bodies are not always prepared to understand the magnitude and sophisticated architecture of regimes, their international coordination, modus operandi and trends. In short, earnings manipulation has become fertile ground for organizations seeking higher profits and lower risks.
Regulation is a huge positive for integrity and clean sport, as it means there are channels for betting operators to report suspicious activity to regulators and leagues, and allows for greater communication between all stakeholders in sport.
In an unregulated market, there is no audit trail in terms of identifying the bettors behind suspicious bets (important for informing investigations), as there are no reporting mechanisms that facilitate any type of information sharing.
However, with the right provisions in place, the fight against match-fixing is strengthened by a healthy and transparent sports betting infrastructure. However, regulation alone will not ‘cure’ match-fixing overnight, and there is a constant need for investment and action from all relevant stakeholders, such as sporting bodies and enforcement agencies. law.
The upcoming regulation of the Brazilian sports betting market presents a development that all of us who care about the integrity of sport in Brazil should view as a significant opportunity for change.
We at Sportradar believe in a holistic approach to these challenges, with sporting bodies, service providers and law enforcement authorities working together to combat match-fixing.