Denmark urges EU action on Macolin Convention

20 May 2019

The Danish delegation to the Council of Europe has called upon European Union member states to address contentious elements of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions to ensure it can be implemented across the bloc.

Denmark says that while the document, also known as the Macolin Convention, that aims to establish a cross-border legal framework to combat match-fixing has been widely supported by EU member states, it contains a number of contentious elements.

Its most vocal opponent is Malta, which disputes the convention’s definition of illegal sports betting.

It argues that defining it as “any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located” makes many of its licensees’ operations illegal.

Denmark also highlighted further contentious points that have been left to the convention’s Follow-Up Committee. In particular it notes that the list of sports organisations covered by the convention are not clearly defined, and the criteria that sports organisations have to meet to benefit from the information sharing agreements formalised in the convention are unclear.

This serves to threaten the EU’s - and the international community’s - ability to combat match-fixing, Denmark says. Furthermore, it adds, the lack of a unified strategy for tackling sports-related corruption undermines the EU’s credibility in this field.

It has therefore called upon the EU and its member states to play an active role in the Follow-up Committee, which will convene after the Macolin Convention comes into force on September 1. Representatives of public authorities responsible for sport, law enforcement or betting regulation can sit on the committee.

“Denmark is confident that European governments have a common vision of a sport without corruption and match-fixing as well as a common interest in working towards this vision,” it said. “In light hereof, Denmark would invite the Council Member States to discuss in the near future next steps towards ensuring EU’s full participation in the Convention in order to accelerate the fight against match-fixing and to preserve the integrity of sport at an international level."

The Macolin Convention comes into force later this year after Switzerland became the fifth Council of Europe member to ratify the document, following Norway, Moldova, Portugal and Ukraine. A further 37 countries have signed the convention, committing to adhering to its terms, without being legally bound to do so.

A sixth country, Italy, is thought to be close to ratifying the convention, according to reports in the Italian press.