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Bill tackling sport corruption in Parliament after summer recess

It would impose harsher penalties on sport officials involved in match-fixing

A Bill tackling sport corruption drafted before the election is being revised and will be presented in Parliament after the summer recess.

The draft law was presented last February by the Attorney General to the anti-corruption task force led by the Malta Football Association. The task force brings together representatives of the government, the Opposition, the police, the Malta Gaming Authority and the MFA.

However, the advanced work on the proposed legislation, which would impose harsher penalties on sport officials involved in match-fixing, was truncated by the election. Former sports parliamentary secretary Chris Agius was replaced by Clifton Grima. A spokeswoman for the sports parliamentary secretariat in the Education Ministry said the government was committed to fighting corruption and external influences in sport.

“A review of the draft bill prepared by the appointed members of the task force… is under way and as soon as the final draft is finalised, it will be presented again to the task force and later submitted in Parliament after the summer recess,” she said.

The Bill, seen by the Times of Malta several months ago, would impose a five-year jail term for athletes and club officials guilty of sport corruption.

The proposed penalties, which included a hefty fine running into thousands of euros, were harsher than those envisaged in the existing laws.

For the first time, the proposed law imposed harsher penalties for club and match officials, athletes, including those who have retired, and individuals with no direct connection to a sporting organisation but who stand to benefit from corruption.

Existing legislation dealing with corruption in sport dates back to the 1970s and does not adequately cater for modern-day corruption, which fixes games to capitalise on online betting. Proceeds from this practice have been reported to run into the hundreds of thousands of euros per game.

The task force was set up in January 2015 by the MFA to combat football match-fixing and eventually roped in the other stakeholders.

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