The international sports data and content deliverer, Sportradar, is doing its bit to fight match-fixing around the world. The Swiss-based company will provide its Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS) free of charge to hundreds of sports leagues and federations who sign up from October this year.
If the fraud detection system picks up on match-fixing, the league can choose to handle the event independently or pay Sportradar’s experienced team to investigate further.
The new free service, which SportRadar previously charged for, is also a savvy PR move against a backdrop of rumors that the multi-billion-dollar-valued group seeks to go public through acquisition. According to reporting by Yahoo! Sports, “SportRadar has spoken recently with multiple SPACs about the possibility of going public through acquisition, according to people familiar with the talks.”
Free Service Considered a Game-Changer
One of the major obstacles facing clubs and leagues worldwide in their efforts to combat match-fixing is cost, particularly in lower-tier leagues and clubs. They’re sometimes unable to provide the information required by sports integrity groups and match-fixing investigators to tackle the problem.
As such, the new free service could be a game-changer in the fight against match-fixing.
According to the press release from SportRadar, the new gratis service will cost around $1.2 million to set up this year, depending on how many leagues enroll.
“We believe that integrity is fundamental to public confidence in sport, and that wrongdoing at any tier of competition affects all levels of sports and its fans… By making this significant investment in integrity via the UFDS initiative, we are demonstrating our commitment to support the sustainability of sport around the globe,” noted Sportradar Group’s CEO, Carsten Koerl.
What Sportradar Gets Out of the Offer
Sportradar’s heavy investment in the ongoing war against sports betting will likely boost integrity across the industry. However, it could also lead to more clients.
The group will spend the next eight months, until the October launch date, adding new leagues to its list of existing partners, which already includes:
Sportradar will work with new and existing partners on what is being termed a ‘freemium’ basis.
The group will monitor betting lines and detect suspicious activity for free. If there’s any evidence of match-fixing, Sportradar will let the league know, and then it’s up to the league to decide what to do next. As noted, leagues can either choose to handle the problem with whatever tools they have at their disposal or hire Sportradar to further investigate and coordinate with police departments and other authorities.
The managing director of integrity services at Sportradar, Andreas Krannich, put it this way: “We can send a blinking red light to raise the alarm. Then it’s up to the sport as to how they proceed, which can include asking Sportradar to help them investigate it further or to go directly to the police.”
In that way, SportRadar’s free service is akin to a free spyware scan that then asks if you’d like to purchase their removal tool.
According to the company, Sportradar’s integrity division employs over 100 professionals. Since the fraud detection service was set up in 2005, the not-for-profit unit has classified 5,330 suspicious events. 400 of these led to sanctions and dozens of criminal convictions
In a time when sports betting news is dominating the headlines, all this is excellent PR for Sportradar. The company was valued at $2.4 billion three years ago and boasts investors such as Mark Cuban, Ted Leonsis, and Michael Jordan.
Initiative Welcomed Across the Board
Putting aside these self-serving observations, the free fraud detection service is being welcomed across the board and should improve integrity in the sports betting universe.
“The decision made today by Sportradar to provide access to its Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS), to all sporting federations and leagues globally, is a much-welcomed resource to enable lower-tiered clubs, that were unable to afford to pay for monitoring services, to examine betting being conducted on their particular sport. It will also generate greater transparency and accountability for sporting organizations that are made aware of suspect competitions, free from closed confidential monitoring contracts.”