EU Athletes code of conduct

1. Introduction

The 2013 Code of Conduct sets out the guiding principles and provides general advice to all athletes throughout Europe on the issues surrounding the integrity of sport and betting.

This latest Code of Conduct has been funded by the European Commission and developed in a partnership between EU Athletes, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the European Sports Security Association (ESSA). It complements any rules provided by national laws, international conventions and sport regulations, both national and international.

This Code is designed to underpin an education programme for athletes which will include tailored advice according to specific sports and countries with examples to help explain each situation.


2. History

In 2010 EU Athletes, EGBA and ESSA developed and published the first Code of Conduct for athletes on sports betting issues. The Code has formed the basis for a number of education campaigns and its core principles have subsequently been adopted throughout sport.


3. Guiding Principles

a) Know the rules

Find out what the rules on betting are in your sport and country before the start of each season.  Even if you don’t bet the rules will still affect you and ignorance of them could ruin your career.  You need to get the facts and protect yourself. The rules should be explained to you in a way that is easy to understand, ideally through face-to-face meetings and supported by fact sheets and web-based educational tools.

b) It is safest to never bet on your sport

It is safest to never bet on your own sport. This includes never asking anyone to bet on your behalf.   Even when there are no specific regulations or laws prohibiting betting on your own sport, it is safest to stay away.  Because you know many athletes, if you bet on your sport you risk being accused of helping other people to fix or breaking rules on insider information. 

c) Be careful about handling sensitive information

As an athlete you know information that is not yet available to the public, such as team tactics, if a star player is injured or that the coach is putting out a weakened side. This is considered sensitive or inside information and applies before, during and after matches. This information is valuable to gamblers who would use it to secure an unfair advantage and to make a financial gain.  Whilst the rules of your sport may cover sensitive information, the following guidance is designed to protect you from potential problems.

  • Never swap information on you, your team or your sport for reward, gifts or favours(1).
  • It is suspicious if you regularly pass on information to a person outside of your club, even if there is no obvious reward.

(1) This does not include media interview

  d) Fixing any part of an event is an absolute No-No

Whatever the reason, do not seek to fix any aspect of a competition, no matter how small. Never put yourself in a situation which would bring you, or even force you, to adversely influence the natural course of a sporting event.

There is no such thing as an easy win and your actions will result in severe consequences. Fixing any part of an event goes against the rules and ethics of sport and will have major consequences.

The media will run big stories if you, your family or friends do anything that causes suspicious betting patterns. If you are accused of match fixing you risk having your reputation trashed even when you are innocent. If you are guilty you will be banned from your sport (possibly for life), lose your job and may even face a jail sentence.

e) Report any approaches

If anyone approaches you about fixing any part of a match or asks for sensitive information then you need to report this and cannot just ignore it.  More and more sports have rules that mean you are guilty of a match fixing offense if you fail to report an approach.

If you have any concerns about anyone, including team mates and coaches, making offers to you then it is crucial that you tell your player association.

If you have any doubts about whom to tell, or even if something is a corrupt approach, then ask your player association for advice.  Any threats should always be reported. The police and national laws are there to protect you and your player association will always provide advice in the first instance.


4. General Advice

a) Family and friends

Your family and friends’ betting behaviours or relations with unscrupulous individuals could create serious problems for you.

If your partner, family or friends are betting on you or events where you have access to inside information this will be traced back to you and will raise suspicions which could lead to you being banned from your sport.

b) Detection

Do not to fall into debt to anyone or allow people to develop a hold over you through any addictions or illegal behaviour. This could trigger unscrupulous individuals to target you to fix competitions either in return for money or even by blackmail.Never wager more than you can afford to lose.

If you feel gambling is becoming a problem or you need support or advice then ask your player association for help. European regulated betting sites will also have details of a confidential helpline number that will help you make contact with independent specialists who are trained to help with these problems.

If you find yourself starting to have problems then it is always better to ask for help before things become too serious. Your player association is there to help you.

c) Responsible betting

Underage betting is illegal. If you are under 18 (or 21 depending on jurisdiction) do not access a sports betting website or enter a land-based betting establishment (or ask anyone else to do it for you in order to place a bet).

It looks suspicious if you use illegal or unregulated betting websites and it can create all sorts of problems.  If you do gamble, only do so with reputable operators who are licensed in Europe.

d) If in doubt – tell someone

 If you ever feel that something is not quite right then trust your instinct and speak to your player association in the first instance. And keep a record of this.

If you have any queries on sports betting issues then it is always better to ask for advice than risk falling foul of the laws. Your player association is there to help.

 e) Fixers will be caught: All suspicious bets are monitored

Remote betting operators (that is a betting service provided via the internet, mobile phone or interactive television) use sophisticated security measures that mean that all suspicious bets, and the identity of those placing those bets, can be traced and reported to sports federations or national authorities.

ESSA monitors any irregular betting patterns to provide an immediate early warning to sports and bookmakers. Modern information technology allows regulated European betting operators to record and trace your bets for fraud prevention purposes.

Land-based betting establishments also have serious security measures and are linked in to betting companies’ central integrity operations.

INTERPOL is also taking an active interest in match fixing which means that the police will cooperate across international borders.

Protect Integrity Website

Download EU Athletes Code of Conduct Brochure

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