As part of the IntegriSport 3.0 project, Bulgaria has hosted an international panel on match-fixing prevention and sport integrity safeguarding.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Youth and Sports, in partnership with the CSCF Foundation for Sport Integrity, welcomed officials from the government, law enforcement agencies, sports federations and player unions to explore collaborative strategies for ensuring the safety and integrity of sports.

Representatives from various sports organisations, including the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), the Bulgarian Tennis Federation, the Bulgarian Esports Federation, the Bulgarian Basketball Federation, the Association of Bulgarian Footballers (ABF), and the global football organisation FIFPRO, were invited to participate in the discussions.

Law enforcement agencies were represented by Europol’s Financial Crime Unit, as well as officials from Bulgaria, Malta, and Austria. 

Loïc Alves, Senior Legal Counsel of FIFPRO, emphasised the success of the Red Button App during the discussions – an app designed for professional footballers to report suspected cases of match-fixing.

Alves said: “Football is one of the most-targeted sports by international organised crime, who will often exploit footballers who are in financial difficulties, such as those not regularly receiving their salary from clubs.

“Ultimately, footballers want a clean sport and the right to a safe workplace. The Red Button app empowers players to safely report match-fixing approaches to competent authorities. That is why a unified approach amongst stakeholders and the support of law enforcement and judiciaries is crucial when it comes to tackling this international issue.”

Football, mainly due to its large global appeal, is the sport that produces the greatest number of suspicious alerts in gambling. Recently, Sportradar Integrity Services (SIS) highlighted football as the most affected sport of match-fixing occurrences in 2023.  

In the report, it found that 66% of the total suspicious matches occurred in football, a small growth of 2% from 2022. This was backed up by an integrity report published by the International Betting Integrity Association in January. 

Interestingly, both reports also found that Europe was the worst affected continent.

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