Criminals have shown adaptability in finding new channels to launder the proceeds of their illegal activities and sports is one of the many sectors that are at risk of being inflicted with criminal money.

With the growing economic importance of sports during the last two decades, especially football, money gradually started to exert a strong influence on the world of sports. This influx of money has positive effects, but also negative consequences.

In order to get a better understanding, this study by the FATF identifies vulnerabilities which make the football sector attractive to criminals. These are mainly related to the structure, the financing and the culture of this sector.

The study analyses several cases that illustrate the use of the football sector as a vehicle for laundering the proceeds of criminal activities. After this analysis, money laundering (ML) through the football sector is revealed to be deeper and more complex than previously understood. Indeed, this analysis appears to show that there is more than anecdotal evidence indicating that a variety of money flows and / or financial transactions may increase the risk of ML through football. These are related to the ownership of football clubs or players, the transfer market, betting activities, image rights and sponsorship or advertising arrangements. Other cases show that the football sector is also used as a vehicle for perpetrating various other criminal activities such as trafficking in human beings, corruption, drugs trafficking (doping) and tax offences.

FATF: Money Laundering through the Football Sector, 2009

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