An information session, organised by the Malta Football Association and titled ‘Say no to match-fixing’, was held yesterday at the Grand Hotel Excelsior.

The activity brought together MFA officials, a representative for the Police Commissioner, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Chris Agius, Home Affairs Shadow Minister Jason Azzopardi, David Agius, the Opposition spokesman for sport, and Kristy Debono, representing Affairs on Competitiveness on behalf of the Opposition.

Also present were representatives of the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Sports Council.

Bjorn Vassallo, MFA general secretary, said football is the world’s most popular sport and in one way or another almost everyone is connected to the game.

He stressed that the MFA have neither the tools nor the authority to investigate in depth any criminal offences relating to the manipulation of sports events and match-fixing to effectively confront criminal organisations which are involved in fraudulent sports activities.

“Observing this abuse passively is not the solution,” Vassallo said.

“We do not wish to reach a point where other countries found themselves in, with football completely at the mercy of individuals who use sport for illicit purposes.

“In this respect the MFA has been structured adequately in terms of internal organisation. However, this is not enough for us to achieve our goals and for this reason we are seeking the intervention of all parties.”

Franz Tabone, Integrity Officer of the MFA, gave a presentation on the work carried out by the association during the last four years as well as the educational programmes undertaken by the governing body for the benefit of member clubs.

He also presented a detailed analysis of the current situation in the association’s fight against corruption.

Chris Bonett, MFA vice-president, spoke about the need to update the Law on Corruption in Sport in order to reflect the international aspects and modern technology in the fight against match-fixing.

He also dealt with the setting up of a specialised structure which includes public officials and competent sports authorities in the same way as those of other countries.

During a meeting held recently, the MFA Executive Committee approved the launching of an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Experts’ Task Force with a view on getting all the interested parties to work together in the fight against corruption.

Those present in the meeting yesterday agreed with the proposals presented by the Malta FA.

These are now expected to be implemented according to an action plan that will be discussed when the Task Force members gather again for another meeting.

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