Three key takeaways from 2nd Brazilian Integrity Summit

By Genius Sports Press | 17 May 2023

On Thursday 11 May 2023, GovRisk and Genius Sports hosted Brazil’s 2nd Sports Integrity Summit at the Tribunal Superior do Trabalho (TST) in Brasilia. On the same day as Brazil’s Ministry of Finance finalised the text of its Provisional Measure (MP) to regulate fixed-odds sports betting, over 160 experts across Brazilian government, sports, betting, law enforcement and the legal profession gathered to participate in a landmark event.

Across a full day of panel and breakout discussions led by a range of industry experts including José Francisco Manssur, Special Advisor to the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Finance of Brazil, Co-author of the bill 14.193/2021 and Juliana Picoli Agatte, Executive Secretary, Ministry of Sports, key measures were agreed to tackle betting related corruption. These include:

1. ‘The time for action is now’

In his opening address, the President of the Tribunal Superior do Trabalho, Lelio Bentes Correa, commented that Brazil is a country of 220 million people with a shared cultural obsession for sport which depends on public trust that the games are fair, transparent and unpredictable.

At this critical time, Jose Manssur emphasised that Brazil’s sports betting regulation was “imminent” and would include integrity measures before being presented to President Lula da Silva for signature the following day.

Several participants highlighted that a legalised, transparent betting market provides greater transparency and encourages information sharing which help to combat threats of betting-related corruption. Since the legalisation of fixed-odds sports betting in December 2018, advertising and sponsorship deals have flooded the Brazilian market place, turning the country into a hive of unregulated activity.  

As Brazil experiences daily reports of match-fixing incidents in football, there was overall consensus that tough new measures are required in the upcoming sports betting regulation to safeguard the integrity of sports. As Paulo Schmitt, President of the Fair Game Defence Committee (COB - NOC Brazil) and Special Advisor to the IOC stated, Brazil is currently ‘the most targeted country in the world for betting-related corruption’. This can be partly attributed to the sheer volume of matches across Brazilian football’s regional and national competitions but also the absence of regulation and the easy access to low-paid players.

Nivio Nascimento, Coordinator of the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Unit at UNODC, also emphasised that criminals increasingly see match-fixing as a low-risk, lucrative crime that lacks enforcement and eludes prosecution.

The time to act is now.

2. ‘Cooperation is key

As with many forms of criminal activity, match-fixing can never be fully eradicated. In legal and illegal betting markets worldwide, criminal forces will always seek to corrupt the outcomes of sports events for their financial gain. However, as underlined by Rafael Marchetti Marcondes, Chief Legal Officer of Rei do Pitaco: “without cooperation, there will be no success in the fight against match-fixing.”

Criminals that manipulate sports competitions in Brazil are highly organised so to combat match-fixing effectively, organisations must be well coordinated. The Associação Brasileira de Defesa da Integridade do Esporte (“ABRADIE”) was founded on the principle of cooperation and collaboration with the aim of bringing together leading individuals and organisations across sports, betting, regulation, law enforcement and the legal profession. Founder members including Rafael Marcondes of Rei do Pitaco, and Marcos Motta, Founding Partner, Bichara & Motta Advogados, highlighted the importance of joint initiatives like ABRADIE during the Summit, while Paulo Schmitt urged all attendees not to rely solely on bet monitoring companies to stamp out integrity threats.

As Natalie St Cyr Clarke, Special Counsel, Sports Integrity at Genius Sports, argued: “everyone with an interest in sport has a responsibility to help keep it clean”. This ranges from leagues putting proper measures in place to identify and prevent match-fixing incidents to sportsbooks sharing account-level information during investigations. Players also must grasp the threat of match-fixing and report any approaches for insider information with Paulo Schmitt urging them to “blow the whistle…people need to speak up.” Meanwhile, law enforcement must launch meaningful investigations and prosecutions while the Ministry of Finance has a huge responsibility with the regulation it is passing.

Sport is built on the principle of teamwork and the response to integrity threats must be proportional.

3. ‘Education, education, education’

“It’s time to wake up. This cancer is spreading.” As Paulo Schmitt summarised, match-fixing in Brazil is growing more widespread by the day with the scale and frequency of scandals gaining national media attention.

While measures such as bet monitoring technology and information sharing agreements between sports and sportsbooks are vital to identify integrity threats, they cannot be relied upon in isolation. By their nature, these measures can highlight existing incidents, but they must be combined with additional practices that are designed to prevent match-fixing. Education is foundational in this approach.

Initiatives like the Integrity Summit and ABRADIE are crucial to highlighting the scale of the problem and ensuring the right measures are included in the betting regulation. However, education initiatives are critical to maintain focus on protecting players, coaches, officials and other stakeholders who may be directly targeted by criminals.

On the same day as the Integrity Summit, Genius Sports and Brazil’s National Basketball League (NBB) hosted an expert workshop for more than 180 players, referees, and technical staff. NBB President Sergio Domenici drew attention to this workshop at the Summit which focused on several key topics including how players may be approached to fix games, what they should do after an approach and the personal and professional consequences if they help manipulate games.

As Natalie St Cyr Clarke argued, education is one of three key pillars that every sports league or federation must build their integrity program on, alongside monitoring and policies. Education empowers Brazilian sports players to stand up to the threat of match-fixing and must be prioritised at this crucial time.