Insights from our breaking intelligence siloes webinar

May 23, 2024
In the world of intelligence and investigations, breaking free from siloed approaches can ensure that shared resources and specialisms are leveraged efficiently, knowledge and trends are exchanged, and opportunities for early detection and prevention are realised from a wider picture of intelligence.  

However, at the cost of these benefits and much like those in other sectors, investigations and intelligence teams in sports integrity often operate in relative isolation. This siloed approach is often due to challenges including perceived data-sharing complexity, unaligned objectives, cultural resistance to change or innovation, and a lack of resources. 

In our latest webinar, “Breaking down siloes in investigations & intelligence: Lessons from the world of sport,” we gathered a panel of sports integrity experts to explore the challenges and benefits of better collaboration in sports and beyond.  

 In the following article, we share key insights from the discussion. You can also rewatch the webinar in full below. 

Chaired by Sarah Lewis OBE OLY, Managing Director of Sarah Lewis Global Sports Leader GmbH, the full panel included: 

  • Corentin Segalen, Coordinator, The National Gambling Authority (ANJ) 
  • Karen Moorhouse, CEO, International Tennis Integrity Agency 
  • Antonio Zerafa, MLRO and Head of Financial Crime Compliance, Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) 
  • Eddie Marshbaum, Head of Sport, Quest Global 

Success in breaking down siloes

The webinar kicked off with reflections from panellists on their respective progress in breaking down siloes. 

Corentin discussed the significant strides made by the French gambling regulator, ANJ, driven by his own contribution to the development of the Macolin Convention. This landmark agreement established a unified framework for combating sports manipulation, fostering trust among various stakeholders including public authorities, law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence entities, sports organisations, and gambling operators. 

Similarly, Antonio elaborated on the proactive stance taken by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). In 2018, the MGA updated gaming regulations to mandate the reporting of suspicious betting activities, leading to the centralisation of crucial data. This regulatory adjustment enabled the MGA to establish a dedicated Sports Betting Integrity team and streamline data sharing with sports bodies and law enforcement agencies, enhancing operational efficiency and integrity measures.

Karen highlighted the successful unification of anti-corruption and anti-doping efforts across tennis by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). By consolidating all major tennis organisations under a single independent body, the ITIA ensures consistent rules and sanctions while fostering trust and communication with players, national federations, and external partners. 

Overcoming data sharing complexity

The complexity of data sharing is regularly touted as a hurdle, with organisations concerned about the risk of falling foul of data privacy regulations. 

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) brought significant changes to how organisations handle personal data in the realm of sport. Initially, many stakeholders, including those in the gambling sector, found the regulation’s ambiguity challenging and questions about what data could be shared and under what circumstances were prevalent. However, through extensive training and outreach efforts by EU institutions, the core principles of GDPR — such as lawfulness, fairness, transparency, and data minimisation — became more widely understood and accepted. This maturation has helped many sectors (not just sport) better navigate the complexities of data sharing. 

Despite this progress, challenges remain. Karen highlighted the delicate balance required to protect personal data while ensuring that essential data for investigations is accessible. Trust is paramount, particularly in sports, where the integrity of players and officials is at stake. While the need to safeguard this data is clear, it should not impede lawful and beneficial data sharing. Effective collaboration requires significant resources, proper structures, and clear agreements.

Eddie echoed this sentiment, emphasising that a risk-averse approach can sometimes use GDPR as a pretext to avoid sharing data. He advocates for a broader, more collaborative dialogue among stakeholders to ensure that data protection laws facilitate, rather than hinder, the pursuit of integrity and regulatory goals. By fostering open communication and close working relationships, especially with law enforcement, organisations can find compliant solutions that meet the objectives of all parties involved, including federations, betting regulators, and law enforcement.

Do we need a single ‘global hub’ for sports integrity?

 The idea of a single global hub for tackling sports corruption has been a topic of considerable debate. While there is an undeniable appetite for such an initiative, it presents a significant challenge in global coordination.  

The ANJ is currently involved in the development of the Football Local Alerts Global Strategy (FLAGS), a pilot project that has engaged Interpol, Europol, national platforms, and private companies to enhance data sharing and intelligence across regions. However, said Corentin, “before building world global agencies, we need to first build trust between prospective participants.”

Antonio agreed that while the Group of Copenhagen has made strides in bringing together 44 countries to build trust and share best practices in sports integrity, creating a universally accepted framework is daunting. Different countries have varied legal frameworks, political interests, and economic priorities, complicating consensus-building. 

Eddie also pointed out operational challenges. Unlike the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has a compliance-focused model, a global anti-corruption body would need a different approach, focusing on intelligence sharing and resource pooling rather than uniform rules. Additionally, funding such an entity poses governance issues, as seen with WADA’s co-funding model, which can lead to conflicts of interest.  

While the vision of a global hub is ambitious and potentially transformative, panellists agreed it faces significant hurdles. Effective implementation would require overcoming complex legal, political, and operational barriers, necessitating a well-coordinated effort across all stakeholders involved. 

Opportunities for technology in the next five years

The next five years hold significant promise for enhancing sports integrity collaboration through technological advancements. Efforts within the Group of Copenhagen and other organisations exemplify the push to break down siloes and share expertise, particularly in tracking financial flows related to match-fixing.

Smaller federations are increasingly investing in anti-corruption measures and leveraging technology to mitigate political interference and ensure impartiality. Advanced technologies, including AI and data analytics, will inevitably streamline processes and help organisations manage data volumes more effectively. These greater efficiencies will foster trust among fans, athletes, and stakeholders by improving the detection and management of integrity issues. 

Encouraging external support and adopting innovations like encrypted reporting systems and AI-driven investigations promise a more collaborative and efficient approach to preserving sports integrity. Improved data collection and analysis platforms, centralised reporting systems, and case management software will enhance information exchange between stakeholders, ensuring critical data is shared efficiently.

Blockchain technology can offer secure, transparent frameworks for data sharing, while advanced communication platforms and geospatial analysis tools can facilitate real-time collaboration and provide holistic views of integrity issues across jurisdictions. Technological advancements hold great promise in the continued breaking down of siloes, improved efficiency, and the development of integrated approaches necessary for maintaining sports integrity. 

Learn more about Clue for Sports Integrity and contact us today to arrange a personalised consultation with our Head of Sport, Phil Suddick.  

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