Any athletes found guilty of corruption will be barred from all sports facilities for a decade if a new anti-bribery law is approved in Parliament after the summer recess.
Sports Parliamentary Secretary Clifton Grima said the proposed law was set to undergo a brief public consultation period before being presented to Parliament next month.
A preliminary draft of the Bill was presented by the Attorney General to the anti-corruption task force last February. The task force brings together representatives of the government, the Opposition, the police, the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Football Association.
Dr Grima told the Times of Malta that the proposed law would provide a new definition of sports manipulation.
It would include “the commission of acts of corruption in sport done for illicit profit out of gambling and the illicit use of inside information for the advantage of oneself or others”.
The proposed law will also seek to widen the jurisdiction of the police extensively. They will be able to prosecute perpetrators irrespective of their nationality or the country where the crime was committed whenever the offence has an impact on Maltese sporting events.
Punishment will be substantially harsher, with imprisonment raised from a maximum of two years to three
In 2013, legal bets on local football totalled €50 million to €70 million. The figure is based on statistics gathered by Sportradar, the Swiss company engaged by the MFA to collect data on football betting.
However, it is widely acknowledged that millions of euros are wagered through unregulated betting companies based mostly in Asia.
What was perhaps more significant, Dr Grima pointed out, was the fact that punishment would be substantially harsher, with imprisonment being raised from a maximum of two years to three for sports corruption.
Punishment would rise by one or two degrees in the case of players forming part of a national sports team and those representing the country in individual games
The draft law also includes the concept of aggravating circumstances, which would see the punishment increase to a maximum of five years in jail. Aggravating circumstances, Dr Grima noted, included corruption committed within the scope of a criminal organisation, a matter the authorities were worried about.
The use of threats, violence or harassment would also be aggravating offences, as would be the nature of the person committing the crime and the monetary benefit derived.
Punishment would rise by one or two degrees in the case of players forming part of a national sports team and those representing the country in individual games.
A self-professed sports aficionado, Dr Grima said he hoped harsher punishments would provide a strong deterrent for anyone contemplating sports corruption.
The new law, he added, also looked to improve the protection afforded to whistleblowers in the hope of encouraging those with any information to come forward and help the police and sports organisations.
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