Tennis and football at highest risk of match-fixing: US sports corruption expert

Even as the FIFA World Cup started, reports emerged of match-fixing investigations in Asia, while tennis’ governing bodies last year set up the International Tennis Integrity Agency to combat corruption.

Lisa Kihl, an associate professor of sport management at the University of Minnesota, speaks after receiving the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani International Excellence Award, presented during a ceremony on the International Anti-Corruption Day on Friday.

Lisa Kihl, an associate professor of sport management at the University of Minnesota, speaks after receiving the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani International Excellence Award, presented during a ceremony on the International Anti-Corruption Day on Friday. | Photo Credit: AFP

Even as the FIFA World Cup started, reports emerged of match-fixing investigations in Asia, while tennis’ governing bodies last year set up the International Tennis Integrity Agency to combat corruption.

A US sports corruption expert said Thursday that football ranks alongside tennis in terms of the risk of match-fixing, calling for new “integrity” systems to tackle the problem.

Lisa Kihl, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, was receiving an award financed by FIFA World Cup host Qatar for campaigning against corruption in sport.

Kihl, head of the Global Institute for Responsible Sport Organizations, was one of seven recipients of anti-corruption excellence awards named after Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

It is the first time one of the awards has been given for campaigning in sport, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the ceremony in Doha.

Asked which are the worst sports for corruption, Kihl told AFP, “In terms of match-fixing, it’s tennis and football. Now basketball is starting to see more numbers.”

Even as the World Cup started, reports emerged of match-fixing investigations in Asia, while tennis’ governing bodies last year set up the International Tennis Integrity Agency to combat corruption.

Kihl said corruption was “ominipresent” and increased sports gambling provided fertile ground.

“If you think of all the forms of corruption we have in society, that is happening in sport,” she said.

“And when you open up gambling, it just opens up another avenue where you can have the bribery, money laundering that goes with it. We have got to do a better job to create systems and accountability systems so that crime syndicates don’t see an easy target.”

The Qatar initiative works with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Kihl said she wanted to “take advantage of the opportunities of the door opening up to really think about how on the global stage we can address the different forms of corruption in sport”.

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