Sports Corruption, Criminal Infiltration & Sports Betting are Hot Topics Addressed by Experts at Groundbreaking “SIGA” Forum
NEW YORK CITY, 01 April 2019:
Leaders of sport, government and business joined forces at the inaugural U.S. Sport Integrity Forum to address the most pressing issues in sport, including corruption and criminal infiltration, sports betting integrity, youth development and child protection. Hosted by the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), the world’s largest collation in the field of sports governance and integrity, the forum was the first of its kind in the US and constituted a key step in transforming the industry on a global scale.
CORRUPTION & CRIMINAL INFILTRATION
In the highly anticipated panel on Anti-Corruption, former US law enforcement chiefs who led the investigation and prosecutions on the notorious “FIFA Gate” scandal said that the investigation is still on-going, and there is enough evidence for the investigation to continue for another ten years. Panelists Robert Capers (former US Attorney, Eastern District of NY), Richard Weber (former US IRS Criminal Investigation Chief), Paul Tuchmann (former Assistant US Attorney, Eastern District of NY / former Deputy Chief of the Public Integrity Section / co-Chair of the FIFA Task Force), spoke about the investigation that sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world.
In his keynote address, Robert Capers commended SIGA´s efforts to prevent corruption in sport, explaining that ultimately law enforcement should not dictate the future of the sports industry, but it was necessary for the US to take a stance and prevent individuals from FIFA from eroding the public´s trust and social good in sport.
Richard Weber wrapped the discussion with: “When I was Chief of IRS-CI, we worked some amazing cases, and FIFA was one of the most significant. We were involved in all aspects of the case – tax evasion, money laundering and corruption. CI agents are the best at following the money. The SIGA conference brought so many diverse constituencies together to discuss the timely and critical issue of fighting corruption in sports. It was a pleasure to have been part of this successful forum.”
SIRVS – SIGA’S INDEPENDENT RATING & VERIFICATION SYSTEM
British Standards Institution (BSI) was awarded the bid to develop and manage SIRVS – SIGA’s Independent Rating & Verification System. This new tool will enforce and hold organizations accountable for integrity standards, and provide a scorecard of how they’re managing themselves. With BSI at the helm, the new SIRVS tool will usher in a new era of enhanced governance, integrity, transparency and accountability across the sports industry.
Representing BSI, Steven Wilson, Business Development Manager, said:
“BSI is delighted to be chosen as the partner to work on implementing SIGA’s Rating and Verification System”. “We are honored to be associated with this vital initiative and BSI looks forward to playing its part in transforming the integrity of global sports.”
CHILD PROTECTION & YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN SPORT
The complex and eye-opening discussion delved into the worldwide mistreatment of children in sport and the need for universal standards on how to protect this vulnerable group. Theo van Seggelen, Secretary General of FIFPro, set the stage with: “Integrity has a long way to go in sports.”
Panelists pushed for immediate reform around the process of reporting issues, and punishing those who mistreat children in sport. “If it were easy, we wouldn’t be here, if it were easy it would’ve been done, if it were easy there wouldn’t be a need for SIGA,” said Shellie Pfohl. “It’s the actions that happen next, and the way we support each other which will really change the issues around child protection in sport.”
JF Cecil lion, CEO of AFDP Global, summed up the sentiment with: “The current rule book needs to be burned, and needs to be rewritten.”
GLOBAL BUSINESS: CATALYST FOR SPORT INTEGRITY
Leaders from top organizations worldwide tackled the subject of reputational damage suffered by brands when their sporting sponsorships become tainted by scandal.
Michael Robichaud, SVP for Global Sponsorships at Mastercard, said: “Mastercard has supported SIGA’s reform agenda since the early days as we believe from a sponsor’s perspective, preserving sport integrity is integral to protecting our investments and reputation. Today’s consumers are more demanding, and as a global business that has a vested interest in the sports industry, we expect the same accountability as our consumers from the sports we sponsor. SIGA and its independent rating & verification system will be the game-changer that the sports industry needs.”
With the US Supreme Court repealing the ban on sports betting and opening the doors for state-to-state legalization, sports betting is becoming more widely accepted. But the reality is clear: States, sports betting operators and sporting organizations are entering into unchartered territory, and the focus is being predominantly given to the awaited jackpot rather than sport integrity.
With leaders from MLS, NHLPA and ICSS on hand to provide their unique input, this rousing panel showed that there is no clear answer – yet.
Bill Ordower, EVP & General Counsel at Major League Soccer, said: “We see sport and gambling being able to coexist. It’s beneficial to our leagues because it brings fandom to people from all over, especially those who live in markets without teams. It drives excitement for those who wouldn’t normally be interested in a game.”
Don Fehr, CEO of NHLPA, called for protection to players as it relates to sports gambling. “Athletes will always be the ones receiving scrutiny because when someone loses money, they look for someone to blame, which goes to players first. Over time players will get into situations where reputations get damaged and privacy is invaded.”
Keynote speaker Mohammed Hanzab, Chairman & CEO of ICSS, summed it up perfectly with: “Protecting the integrity of sport is not exclusively owned by one body, one single country or by one entity. Protecting the integrity of sport is and must be a shared responsibility – one that everyone can contribute to and play an active role in.”
UNITED FRONT FOR SPORT INTEGRITY
After decades of poor governance and lax attitudes by sports governing bodies, the reputation of sport has reached an all-time low due. The need for global leadership, meaningful reforms and enhanced international cooperation is greater than ever.
Holli Richmond, Executive Director of the U.S. President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition said: “Last year we took on a strategy to address the barriers that communities are facing, getting volunteers and coaches to participate. SIGA is someone we can look to learn what you are doing in the space, for coaches and community leaders completing rigorous training.”
Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of SIGA, reinforced the organization’s commitment to the US by announcing the formation of “SIGA AMERICA.” With the US facing some of its most challenging issues to date including legalized sports gambling, NCAA scandals, sexual misconduct lawsuits and corruption cases, SIGA AMERICA’s presence comes at a perfect time. SIGA AMERICA will be a not-for-profit subsidiary company, and will launch in the coming months.
Four-time Olympian Cameron Myler and former USA Rugby player of the decade Phaidra Knight were appointed “SIGA Champions.” The duo will work closely with SIGA to promote values and integrity in sport across the U.S. and worldwide, with a particular focus on youth.
AFDP GLOBAL JOINS SIGA
AFDP Global, a social enterprise that supports global soccer initiatives to unite children and young adults, pledged their allegiance to SIGA, and formally joined as a member organization. Michael Robichaud, representative for fellow SIGA member organization Mastercard, urged for the other representatives and organizations in attendance to back SIGA and work together to create a united global front for sport integrity.
SIGA CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros closed the forum with this powerful sentiment: “Sport is owned by each and every one of us. Sport belongs to all of us and we’re all responsible for doing our share to encourage integrity in sport. The expectations are huge, and I know we will deliver. Global problems need global solutions. If I have to define what is SIGA in just two words, those words are: Tranquil Revolution. What we aim are not quick-fix solutions, but long-term, sustainable, global reforms. The presence of so many delegates today, coming from all over the world, is confirmation of the shared values and commitment to stand up for good governance and integrity in sport.”
Sport Integrity Global Alliance
Founded in 2017, Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is an independent, multi-stakeholder, international non-profit coalition. Its aims to monitor and increase integrity in the sports industry from the grassroots youth level to the top professional leagues. SIGA’s vision is a world where sport is played and governed under the highest integrity standards, free from any form of unethical, illicit and criminal activity. SIGA was established as a service to sport, with no political motivation or commercial interest.