Giovanni Pantaleoni helped to organise the Prevention of Competition Manipulation webinars for WBSC athletes, providing them with key information on the topic.

These webinars reminded athletes of the WBSC code of conduct and demonstrated how easy it can be to make a mistake if you’re not aware of the rules.

Over 350 participants benefited from the webinars among both athletes and WBSC staff and officials.

It is vitally important that athletes feel safe informing us about anything that could be happening to them.

Giovanni Pantaleoni

A common issue

I was very happy to be part of the series of webinars on the Prevention of Competition Manipulation we organised with the IOC, because I think that it’s not a subject that athletes normally take into account. You might think competition manipulation is something that will never happen to you; it’s something that happens to other people. That, unfortunately, is not true, and so I think it’s very important for us to warn you and your fellow athletes about how people may approach you asking for certain things; how to prepare for this; and what to do if this happens. We need to let athletes know that competition manipulation exists.

Don’t hesitate to report

The webinars we held were split into two sessions, one for officials and staff, and one for athletes. These covered everything from introducing the very concept of competition manipulation and match-fixing to detailing the risks and sanctions related to being involved in any of these illegal affairs.

Participants were also made familiar with the four key rules in the WBSC code of conduct: don’t bet, don’t fix, don’t share inside information, and always report. We stress this last point a lot. It is vitally important that athletes feel safe informing us about anything that could be happening to them, such as being forced into competition manipulation.

Social media is possibly the easiest way for an athlete to accidentally get into trouble with competition manipulation.

Giovanni Pantaleoni

Click here to read about the reporting process and learn how you can help keep sport clean. 

We let our athletes know that we have a hotline dedicated to confidentially reporting such incidents, to ensure that anyone calling feels safe and comfortable doing so; and we also reiterate that, by staying silent, they could unwittingly implicate themselves in the affair.

Delicate information

In terms of my personal involvement, I was talking from the perspective of a former athlete and somebody who is not trying to do anything bad. For instance, posting that your arm is really hurting when you’re the starting pitcher in a final is certainly not a good idea. It’s so easy to share time-sensitive information absentmindedly through social media that can be taken advantage of by anyone betting on games and so forth.

There’s also the delicate balance of strategy that teams have to consider, especially when it comes to competition draws and result ramifications. For example, if a loss could actually help a team draw a more favourable opponent in the next round, can they drop their star player without this being seen as competition manipulation? That is a tricky one. So these things, the fact that you cannot lose on purpose, need to be and were well explained. The integrity of the game needs to be preserved.

You can view the slides of the webinar and also see more details on the WBSC webpage on competition manipulation. 

The webinars were very well attended across the WBSC’s five continental associations, with 233 athletes participating, while a further 120 officials and staff members joined the first webinar. A lot of athletes I know reached out to the office to say that they liked the seminars, which is good to know. We really feel it is crucial that they understand the subject and are made aware of it.

Preventing competition manipulation is vital to maintaining the integrity of sport – make sure you know the rules.