Macolin Convention set to come into force from September

17 May 2019

The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, also known as the Macolin Convention, is finally set to enter into force from September 1, though concerns remain over its definition of illegal sports betting.

Switzerland became the fifth CoE member to ratify the convention, after Norway, Moldova, Portugal and Ukraine. Having ratified the Treaty, the five have committed to complying with the legal framework it sets out to tackle match fixing, including the processes for collaborating with other nations on the issue.

The convention also sets out legal definitions for issues ranging from conflicts of interest to illegal betting, and controls to address poor governance and the handling of confidential information.

“The entry into force of the Macolin Convention is good news for everyone who values fair play and integrity in sport,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

“The convention is a major step forward in the fight against corruption in sport and has received firm backing from major sports organisations and partners including FIFA and UEFA. I urge all of our member states, and countries around the world, to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible.”

While the Macolin Convention was first introduced in September 2014, it has been fought at every step by Malta, which vetoed the European Commission signing it on behalf of all 28 member states. It therefore required ratification from at least five CoE member states before it could be introduced in any form.

Malta’s objections centre around the convention’s definition of illegal sports betting. This is defined as “any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located”.

This, Malta argues, would effectively rule that its licensees’ activity in a number of European markets, using their Malta Gaming Authority licence to justify offering their services there, would be considered illegal. It has demanded the convention be amended since its introduction.

Alongside the five countries to have ratified the Macolin Convention, 37 countries have also signed it, most recently Croatia and San Marino. By signing the document, states commit to adhering to the terms of the convention, though this is not legally binding. c

Australia is currently the only non-European signatory, though other countries, including Cape Verde and Morocco, are also understood to have shown an interest in doing so.

ESSA, which was involved in the drafting of the convention, described the ratification as “a predominantly positive move.

“The Convention sets out a range of practical measures to address match-fixing internationally and it has been broadly supported by ESSA and the wider betting sector,” ESSA secretary general Khalid Ali said.

“However, there remain hurdles to overcome,” he added. “The definition of illegal sports betting, in particular, continues to present challenges to universal acceptance of the Convention text.”