The Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off today at a time when corruption in sport is firmly in the limelight. Following the indictment in the US in May of 14 FIFA officials and marketing executives on a range of corruption charges, the US Attorney General confirmed this week that there will be more charges in the FIFA investigation involving both individuals and entities.
This was followed yesterday by confirmation from Switzerland that it will extradite a Uruguayan football official to the US and then FIFA's announcement that it had suspended its Secretary General over allegations about ticket sales in the 2014 World Cup. In cricket, Salman Butt and Mohamad Asif were both allowed to return to competitive cricket at the start of the month following the end of their 5 year bans for corruption. So it’s no surprise that World Rugby has implemented a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy for the World Cup in order to guard against the problem.
Under the strategy all participants, including players, trainers, team and match officials, have been asked to complete a wide-ranging education programme which sets out the World Rugby regulations in respect of match and spot fixing, other corruption offences as well as restrictions on betting and the use of inside information.
When the teams and match officials arrived for the tournament they will have received supplemental education via briefings from World Rugby integrity officers, all of whom are experts in sports integrity. The integrity officers will be present throughout the tournament to deal with any queries or issues which might arise. World Rugby has also contracted a betting monitoring agency and will use its fraud detection system to monitor global betting markets for any suspicious betting behaviour and strange odds movements.
The last Transparency International UK report into corruption in the UK revealed that the public regards sport as the second most corrupt sector in the country. Although rugby union is a sport with a relatively clean reputation, there have been corruption and other criminal allegations in the past in relation to rugby in some of the competing nations, including Namibia, Fiji and Samoa. World Rugby's measures aim to safeguard the Rugby World Cup from corruption, uphold the principles of fair play and give the public confidence in the tournament.