Refereeing Football: The EU’s Yellow Card for Money Laundering
26 Aug 2019

Professional football clubs and players’ agents will be required to report suspicious transactions to the police or face criminal sanctions, just like banks, if radical measures proposed by the European Commission are adopted.

These measures are recommended in the Staff Working Document that accompanied the Commission’s recently published Supranational Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks facing the European Union and its 28 member-states. The Commission believes these measures are necessary to combat the “significant” risk of money laundering in professional football and the “moderately significant” risk of terrorist financing in the sector.

The Commission recognises that sport can be attractive to criminals in order to launder funds and, whilst the sector is not material compared to some others in macroeconomic terms, it merits closer analysis given its significant cultural and social impacts, the large amounts involved in a single transaction and the recent increase in the number of individuals involved in the administration of the sport.

Whilst economic motives may not be of prime importance to criminals, social prestige, appearing with celebrities and players and the prospect of dealing with authority figures may attract those with less than honourable intentions.

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