Strategic Basic research funded by FWO

The negative impact of fraud in sports – all behaviours aimed to manipulate the outcome of a sports competition or abuse sports to gain financial and other advantages – has never been more manifest than today. Not only does fraud in sports undermines the attractiveness of sports as a multibillion business, it also threatens the integrity of sports and those involved. To enable sports to fully play its positive role in society (relating to such outcomes as the improvement of public health and social cohesion), fraud in sports has to be tackled in an integrated manner, uniting forces of many sports, public, and private organizations. However, current insights in the causes, consequences, and preventive measures of fraud in sports are fragmented, and (as a consequence) proposed reforms are at best only limitedly effective.

 

Given this context, the PrOFS project delivers an ambitious, state-of-the art, multidisciplinary scientific approach in preventing fraud in sports, thereby responding to calls of both academics and practitioners for a holistic framework. To this aim, the PrOFS project envisions a systemic change, enabled by the close collaboration of a broad range of leading scientists and the main stakeholders regarding the fight against fraud in sports in Flanders. For the first time, a multidisciplinary project is presented that not only investigates the complex nature of fraud in sports, but also uses scientific methods to develop and test practical tools (e.g. risk assessment, fraud in sports barometer, and crime proofing) and solutions (e.g. reforms of laws and
regulations, moral education workshop, and tournament restructuring) in optimizing the fight against fraud in sports. Particular focus is put on those types of fraud in sports (i.e. match-fixing, human trafficking, bribery, and financial and social fraud, including money laundering) that are most strongly present, yet lack an integrated counter approach.

Impact and Objectives

Impact

A strong innovative part of the PrOFS project is that it is rooted in an urgent request from the field
of sports (bottom-up) instead of originating from a perceived scientific need (top-down). This is also
amply illustrated by the large and diverse set of organizations that have submitted letters of intent
to collaborate in the PrOFS project. As a consequence, a large impact on the field of sports in
Flanders (as part of the broader Belgian sport context) will be enabled. The above discussed
activities will provide tools that will be of use for a wide range of different stakeholders in the field of
sports. While some of the work packages zoom in on certain types of fraud and certain actions, our
final work package will develop and present a holistic and integrated framework.

Objectives

1. The creation of a legal infrastructure that reduces chances of different kinds of fraud
2. The organization of sports competitions in a way that decreases the chances of fraud.
3. The build-in of sufficient control, systems, and checks in sports organizations to prevent fraud.
4. The development of a network or agency that can monitor and support prevention of fraud on a permanent basis.
5. The provision of measures (barometer) to government agencies to evaluate the prevention of fraud.
6. The moral education of sportspeople, coaches, and leaders in the sports sector.
7. The provision of tools to managers and board members of sports organizations to prevent fraud in an effective way.
8. The provision of a blueprint of an integrated anti-fraud system that applies to all sports on amateur and professional level and includes different types of fraud in sports.
9. The engagement of all stakeholders groups in sports to collaborate in the fight against fraud in sports.

Work packages

TEAM

SUPERVISOR

Prof. dr. Annick Willem

Department of Movement and Sports Sciences UGent

CO-SUPERVISORS

Prof. dr. Alain van hiel

Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology

Prof. dr. Wim Hardyns

Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – UGent

Prof. dr. Tom Vander Beken

Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – UGent

Prof. dr. An Vermeersch

Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – UGent

Prof. dr. Letizia Paoli

Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC) – KU Leuven

POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS

Dr. Bram Constandt

Department of Movement and Sports Sciences UGent

Cleo Schyvinck

Department of Movement and Sports Sciences UGent

PHD STUDENTS

Gema Souvenir

Department of Movement and Sports Sciences UGent

Louis Vandercruysse

Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – UGent

Lucie Vanwersch

Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – UGent

TBC

Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC) – KU Leuven

Partners

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