The Global Lottery Management System (GLMS) recorded 197 alerts for potentially suspicious activity associated with football during the first half of 2020, with the vast majority of alerts from these matches sent to football partners FIFA and UEFA.

Football generated a significant portion of the total 269 alerts. European football generated 137 alerts, followed by 43 in Asia, and 7 in North America. Basketball followed some way behind, with a total of 27 alerts, ice hockey generated 19 alerts and tennis on 18.

Explaining that corruption had not stopped during the pandemic, Ludovico Calvi, GLMS President, said: “The cessation of mainstream sport competitions worldwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak has created a window of opportunity for malefactors to exploit and manipulate sports betting across the globe.

“As our sport integrity association reacted promptly to the new and unexpected threats through our Integrity Hubs in Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Montreal, together with members and partners, we have never been so busy as we have in this period in fighting the phenomena of ghost matches and match fixing.

“As a matter of fact, during the last quarter, there was an increased number of cases of “matches” which never actually took place, but were promoted on the web with the goal of profiting at the expense of the unsuspecting public and betting operators.

“Criminal organisations have been very active since the outbreak of Covid-19, seizing any opportunity – even during a pandemic crisis – to further their illicit activities. Additional threats are likely to continue to materialize while sport events resume in a usually quiet sporting period of the year, given that the financial crisis has adversely impacted countless sport organisations globally, which in turn, may increase the level of risk-taking and vulnerability of athletes and sport stakeholders.”

On the whole, GLMS recorded a year-on-year decline in the volume of suspicious betting alerts it sent to its members, down 38% from 432 alerts when compared to the same period last year.

GLMS reported that 199 alerts were sent before a match or event had started, while eight were submitted while a game was in-play, and the remaining 62 sent once a sporting event had ended.