05/10/2012 Georgios Papastamkos : “The main cause behind the rise of violence is corruption”

Fight against corruption, violence, promotion of sport for all... As the European Parliament resumes, hot topics are legion. Interview with its Vice-President, MEP Georgios Papastamkos. Interview by Julian Jappert and Maxime Leblanc, from Sport and Citizenship.

What is your feeling about the agenda in the field of sport, particularly the new “Erasmus for all” program?

Georgios Papastamkos : The European Commission's proposal for the "Erasmus for all" is under examination, while a special Committee on organised crime, corruption, and money laundering is dealing with the domain of sport.
The intention of the Commission to unify the existing educational and youth programmes moves towards the desirable dimension of simplification and rationalization. However, the European Parliament should ensure this effort will not undermine the integrity and the core values of existing and very popular programmes. The inclusion of sport places this domain its proper dimension: it highlights the educational and cultural side of sport. Irrespectively of the final amount attributed to the programme, the EU will have a new resource to invest in a domain which inspires European citizens of all ages, and unites people. Far away from the blinding lights of professional sports, amateur and voluntary mass sport can become an additional string with high added value.

In February 2011, you called the European Commission to coordinate a comprehensive study on corruption in sport and to regulate online betting. How has this demand been answered? think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship. 

Georgios Papastamkos : The European Commission cannot stand anymore as a spectator, watching passively European sports being destroyed by economic interests. The self-governing in professional sports is not an end in itself; especially, in cases where self-governing creates an area of non-application of the rule of law. I expect from the European Commission to take the lead, and give a systemic answer to these problematic aspects.

Regulating online betting has become a highly controversial topic. Since a systemic EU regulatory response does not look feasible for the near future, sectorial approach should be followed. Several European Commissioners have recognised the relation between online betting and match-fixing. The idea of criminalising match-fixing and harmonising the penalties is very interesting, but one has to look into the difficulties of its application due to the diversity of the legal systems.

Violence is at the core of our special issue this quarter. To what extent does the European Parliament address this issue?

Georgios Papastamkos :
Violence has no place inside the sport fields. The EU, the international and national institutions and authorities, have made progress in the fight against this scourge. However, regular incidents of extensive violent behaviour have not been tackled in an efficient way. Violence in Sports is becoming part of a generalised social behavioural trend of, usually, young people. The fact that the "game" is not anymore "fair", due to the influence of economic interests is directly linked with the violent reactions. In my view, the main cause behind the rise of violence is corruption. Supporters are provoked when they safe-guess that the result of the game is fixed.

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