During the first meeting of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts’ Task-Force which was held at the Grand Hotel Excelsior on Friday, all parties unanimously agreed with the need to strengthen the battle against corruption in local sports.
All parties committed themselves to adhere to a national action plan for integrity in sport which should lead to making the necessary changes in the criminal laws, the various associations’ regulations, the investigative powers given to the Police and above all, the prevention by educating children.
The Task Force is composed of representatives of the Malta Football Association, the Ministries of Interior and Justice, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Research and Innovation, Youth and Sport, the Opposition’s main speakers for Justice and Sports, the Police, the Permanent Commission against Corruption, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Sports Council.
MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo stressed how all the components of the Task Force agree that they should join forces to create a national strategy to prevent match-fixing. Although it is a global challenge, match-fixing is unfortunately a problem of our society. The MFA has always been a catalyst and is on the fore-front in raising awareness on the subject.
Minister for the Interior and National Security Carmelo Abela reiterated the government’s complete support in doing everything necessary to get rid of this problem. Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport Chris Agius stressed the importance of that authorities are well-aware on this matter and that it should no longer be considered just as an offense in sports but as a criminal offense on the same level of drug trafficking and money laundering.
David Agius and Jason Azzopardi said that the Opposition will be giving its total support and will do everything necessary to combat this crime, with the creation of an appropriate legal framework guaranteeing the integrity of sport; harsher penalties related to corruption in sport and the mandatory imprisonment in such cases.
MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone explained the work that the association has done over the past four years.
MFA Vice President Dr. Chris Bonett presented an outline of the national action plan to lead the various parties to agree on a clear definition of match-fixing, revision of existing laws and rules aimed at increasing the penalties associated with such crimes, the creation and promotion of educational programs for children.
Dr. Dominic Micallef, on behalf of the Malta Gaming Authority, Dr. Karen Zammit Southernwood, on behalf of the Maltese Council for Sport and Mr Albert Mifsud, on behalf of the Permanent Commission against Corruption, were also present and addressed those present.