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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sports News: Robertson warns of fixing threat

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has claimed team sports will be an obvious target for anyone attempting to fix an event at the London 2012 Games.

Robertson believes the minutiae of competition is where betting scams are most likely to occur, given the growth in spread betting. Gamblers can now stake money on the smallest detail in an event rather than the overall outcome, making illegal acts of fixing potentially difficult to detect.

"It absolutely is a possibility. The real danger lies in spot-fixing," Robertson told BBC News. "Just consider how easy it is to bet on something like the first short corner in a hockey game - any team sport you can bet on an individual action or occurrence. So you look at the number of team sports that there are in the Olympics and the threat - the real threat - becomes very obvious."

Robertson warned on Sunday that the threat of illegal betting practices and match-fixing to the Olympics is "obvious and enormous".

According to reports, a dedicated police intelligence unit is to be introduced for the London Games, tasked with identifying attempts to fix events.

The unit will reportedly be headed up by the Metropolitan Police and work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Interpol to track suspicious gambling activity abroad.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also created a unit to monitor the global betting market for unusually large wagers on particular events or competitors.

When asked how big a problem Games fixing is, Robertson told Sky News: "We don't really know but the threat is obvious and is enormous. If you listen to the president of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, he will tell you that this is the single biggest threat facing global sport.

"He's set up a high-level group to tackle it, to look at what causes it, to look at what we might do to educate athletes better and to look at what punishments are necessary to deter athletes from undertaking it.

"I'm part of that group, as are many other sports ministers and representatives from the gambling industry and the international sports federations. But be under no illusion, this is a very real threat, we've seen it in this country with the Pakistan Test cricketers and the scandal at Lord's, and it will be a very real part of the Olympics."

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