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SAFF organizes First Integrity Seminar in Colombo

The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) with support of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka,as a local host, organized the First SAFF Integrity Seminar in Colombo on Thursday, 18th November, 2021.

The one-day seminar had the participation of Integrity Officers from the six Member Associationsalong with three guest speakers from the United Nations on Drugs and Crime, Genius Sports and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).In addition, observers from FIFA and Football Federation of Sri Lanka, Competition Managers and Medical Officers from thesix Member Associations joined the event in person and virtually.

The seminar was inaugurated by holding a traditional lighting ceremony which is a Sri Lankan ritual. Subsequently, AFC Head of South Asian Unit, MA and RA Division, Mr. Purushottam Kattel, made the opening remarks congratulating SAFF for organizing the seminar despite the challenging time. He further thanked the President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka for hosting the Seminar and the six Member Associations for their participation.

Likewise, Professor B.L.H Perera, the Director for AcademicProgrammes at the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka,focused on the importance of thethree key areas of integrity in sports, particularly, stressing on how the society plays an important role on sports integrity.

Mr. Abhishek Deshpande from United Nations of Drugs and Crime, opened the first session of the seminar,speaking onthe United Nations' efforts to tackle corruption and crime in sports. Mr. Deshpande then elaborated more on match fixing,match manipulation, the reporting mechanism andthe good practices when investigating match manipulation. He also shared with the participants the various supporting tools for reporting such incidents.

Mr. Percy Wilman fromGenius Sports,in the first session, covered the topic on betting,the approaches to effectively investigate such incidents andcombatting manipulation. He also shared knowledge on how to engage in a safe way with betting in sports.Further, giving an insight on the work scope of Genius Sports, Mr. Wilman said that Genius Sports was ready to collaborate and help any stakeholders to effectively combat match fixing through awareness raising and use of technology. He spoke on five core approaches - prevent, identify, combat, manage and investigate.

Dr. Zohreh Haratian an Executive Member of the Medical Committee of AFC conducted the second session. Dr. Haratian elaborated on anti-doping, particularly covering the detection, investigation, exemption and other related processes. Dr. Haratian also addressed all the queries that were expressed by the medical officers of the member associations who joined virtually.

The third session was conducted by Mr. Percy Wilman, Genius Sports and Mr. Asif Ansar, AFC Match Commissioner and the Manager of Sri Lanka National Team. Mr. Wilman started the session and shared a global approach regarding fairplay, discipline and ethics.Mr. Asif Ansar then ended the session by focusing onthe practicalities of fair play, discipline and ethics in South Asian competitions.

The seminar was concluded successfully with closing remarks from SAFF General Secretary Mr. Anwarul Huq, followed by Minister of Justice, Mr. M.U.M Ali Sabry and President of Football Federation of Sri Lanka, Mr. Jaswar Umar. Mr. Sabry then presented the certificates to all the participants and Mr. Umar presented the tokens of appreciation. The seminar was then concluded with all the guests, speakers, official and participants joining to take a group photo.

 As such, the seminar focused on integrity, opened doors for all Member Associations and SAFF to collectively work on developing a better integrity ecosystem.