Why it’s Getting Worse: The Drivers of Integrity Threats
Integrity threats are as old as sport, but their volume,
sophistication, and impact are each growing. Four
great global forces are driving the changing nature of
modern-day threats:
1. The Growing Wealth and Complexity of
the Sports Sector.
With its numerous structures
of governance, hundreds of leagues and associations,
and thousands of teams, and with countless heav-
ily invested constituencies all expecting payouts,
the global sports sector is a vast agglomeration that
grows in wealth and complexity each year. Increas-
ing revenues and participants multiply opportunities
for malfeasance and make mounting timely, coordi-
nated responses to integrity threats more difficult.
At the most basic level, the sheer amount of money
at stake, and thus the immense rewards that accrue
to successful individuals or teams, offers a powerful
temptation to cheat. Average performers in major
professional sports make incomes that are many mul-
tiples of players in lower leagues; elite athletes earn
tens of millions or more annually. Winning teams are
rewarded at similarly impressive levels. In European
football, for example, a place in the Champions
League is worth at least $30 million to each team.
Including prize money, TV rights, and merchandise
sales, the winning side may collect more than $150
million. In contrast, teams relegated from top-tier to
lesser leagues lose significant value – approximately
$54 million in the case of the Premier League.
2. Increasing Globalisation.
The increasing
wealth and complexity of the sports sector is partly a
result of the accelerating forces of globalisation: the
same forces of communications, financial, and trade
integration at work in the world economy at large
naturally extend to sport as well, internationalising
what had been national or regional, and creating
additional wealth and complexity in the process.
Sales of Manchester United-branded merchandise
are soaring in Asia, while American basketball star
Kobe Bryant is as recognised in China as any native
athlete. But entering into the picture along with
salutary aspects of globalised sports are phenomena
born of globalisation that threaten sports integrity,
such as the increased incidence of match fixing and
“occurrence fixing” by illicit gambling interests that
have a worldwide presence; the widespread use of
performance-enhancing drugs in a “global mania to
produce ‘world-class’ athletes”;
easier discovery
and exploitation of underage athletic talent from
impoverished countries in Africa, Latin America, and
heightened official corruption as countries
seek to bribe their way into hosting top-tier interna-
tional competitions and tournaments; a global boom
in counterfeit licensed sports merchandise and other
forms of indiscriminate brand theft; and rising con-
cerns about physical security at international sporting
events as a result of terrorism and internationally
mobile mobs of hooligans.
3. An Accelerating Rate of Innovation.
serious threats of doping and the rise of illicit gam-
bling aided and abetted by the internet are among
the numerous innovations that challenge integrity
managers across the sports world. Needless to say,
many sports innovations are beneficial. The inven-
tion of new forms of sport like the extraordinarily
popular Twenty20 cricket in India opens new markets
and provides platforms for fresh sports heroes. The
Internet enables communities of fans to extend and
expand around the world. Equipment innovations
facilitate better performance in golf, tennis, and other
sports. At the same time, the proliferation of per-
formance enhancing drugs and other sophisticated
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
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