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Corruption

Corruption – The UNODC Global Report on Corruption in Sport[1] suggests that esports are particularily vulnerable to two types of corruption, namely competition manipulation similarily as seen in traditional sports, and structural manipulation that can affect the essence of the game. The latter is considered as digital cheating, or so-called e-doping, by which data or the playing platform and the softweare itself can be manipulated.

Those two threats have been confirmed by the ESIC Commissioner, Ian Smith, who was commissioned to carry out a threat assessment of esports prior to the establishment of ESIC. Next to competition manipulation and software cheats, doping and online attacks to slow and disable an opponent have been identified as the four most significant threats in esports.[2]

Corruption in Esports

ESIC

ESIC, a third-party provider in esports, defines “corrupt conduct” as “Any act or omission that would amount to an offence under Article 2 of the Anti-Corruption Code”. Article 2 of the Anti-Corruption Code lists four (4) corrupt offences, namely (i) competition manipulation or being part of such competition manipulation; (ii) ensuring for betting or other corrupt purposes; (iii) seeking, accepting, offering or agreeing to accept any bribe or other Reward for purposes of (i) or (ii); and (iv) directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any Participant to breach (i) (ii) and/or (iii).[3]

Riot Games

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Riot Games’ Esport Global Code of Conduct does not include the terminology of corruption. The Code of Conduct rather speaks about integrity, an overall terminology used for corrupt conduct also in traditional sports. Under the Esport Global Code of Conduct, “Esports Professionals who participate in Riot Games esports competitions must at all times observe the highest standards of personal integrity and sporting conduct”. Prohibited conducts included are – among others – active and passive bribery, match manipulation, gambling, abuse of position and retiliation.[4]

IESF & GEF

According to IESF’s statutes one of IESF’s main objectives is “to prevent any methods or actions that could jeopardize the integrity and fairness of esports matches or competitions or lead to the abuse of esports, mainly to prevent cheating, doping, drug abuse, and match-fixing”.[5]

GEF, on the other hand, provides for a code of ethics,[6] which includes “Bribery and corruption” as prohibited conducts. The code of ethics – among others – also includes competition manipulation, as well as abuse of position.

Conclusion

Depending on the rules and regulations in place the following conducts are considered as corrupt conduct: competition manipulation, betting and related conduct, active and passive bribery, abuse of position, and retaliation. At times, the rules and regulations might use the terminology “integrity” instead or alongside the term corruption.

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[1] UNODC ‘Global Corruption in Sport’ (2021), https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/safeguardingsport/grcs/index.html.

[2] I Smith, ‘The mission and role of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC)’ (2017) 3 GSLTR 41-44.

[3] See ESIC ‘Definitions’ and ‘Anti-Corruption Code’ available at <https://esic.gg/codes/>.

[4] See Riot Games ‘Esports Global Code of Conduct’ available at <https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/blt6b44d0e0eb15833b/blte879871fb9e3740b/65688e33ca38f0ab3fd31590/ENG_-_Riot_Games_Esports_-_Global_Code_of_Conduct_-_2023.11.27.pdf>.

[5] See IESF ‘Statutes’ available at <https://iesf.org/rules-regulations/>.

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[6] See GEF ‘Code of Ethics’ available at <https://www.globalesports.org/resources>.

Author

  • Erika Riedl

    Erika is a multi-lingual sports lawyer with over 15 years of experience. She specialises in governance, regulatory and integrity matters. She sits as an Arbitrator for Sports Resolutions UK as well as for other disciplinary panels, and she is a CEDR accredited Mediator. Erika is also a member of the Integrity Board of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). In addition, she is currently completing her PhD studies in esports integrity. View all posts

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