There is a new virus threatening to infect sports in North America, and it’s not a lack of respect among athletes.
Forget the vicious elbow thrown by Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (new ridiculous name, same old Ron Artest) on James Harden of the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Forget the rash of head shots that have lowered the value of the current National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs from spectacular to merely outstanding.
The wave of corruption in sports in the form of game fixing that is rampant in Europe, according to Declan Hill, is on the move into Canada.
Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, along with Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), were guest speakers at a National Capital Branch of the Canadian International Council event Tuesday night, and both spoke of the growing need for an international agency to combat corruption in sport.
Pound went through the timeline of the creation of WADA and its success, then added that creating a similar body to govern against corruption could be just as effective.
Hill spoke of the widespread game fixing that goes on and focused on the massive Asian market, and referenced one small company in the Philippines that does a gross annual turnover four times as big as Adidas, one of the world’s largest sportswear companies.
“Most of that industry is illegal and it’s run by the Asian equivalents of Al Capone,” Hill said. “It’s a criminal organization and they have corrupted most Asian sports.”
That corruption, according to Hill, is now hitting close to home and has even been found in the Canadian Soccer League, which the Capital City FC was a member of last season.
Hill said it may not be showing up in the form of game fixing, but is certainly there on the betting side.
He added that while there are very few soccer games during July in Asia, the market is available in Canada for these travelling bookmakers to make the rounds and spread the virus well beyond the Asian borders.
“We can fight against this very easily, and the cheap way of fighting against this is to have an independent, international agency to fight against sports corruption. It is the right time to set one up and it’s now for us, as Canadians, to do it,” Hill said.
“If we can help set up an agency like this, they will be talking about us in every capital in every place they do sports in the world.”
The anti-doping agency was established in 1999.
“What Declan has described is not going to go away on its own because there’s too much money in it, coupled with low risks of detection, inadequate enforcement and insufficient deterrent arising from possible sanctions,” Pound said.
“I think an (international agency) is an excellent idea.”