Melbourne, June 3: The Australian government will push for severe punishments, including 10-year jail terms, to combat match fixing and corruption in professional sports.
Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib will meet with his state counterparts next week to discuss the penalties, recommended by the New South Wales state Law Reform Commission.
The federal and state sports ministers are expected to agree to nationwide criminal laws for match fixing, but federal and state attorneys general will also need to agree on the penalties.
"My personal view is that 10-year sentences send the right message to people who try to corrupt sport and fix matches," Arbib was quoted as saying in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald.
"Getting action on match fixing, when there are different laws in each state and territory and different views, will not be easy," he said. "And it won't come quickly. But we are very encouraged by the spirit of co-operation and genuine desire from the states and territories to take action."
The sports ministers will also discuss laws to combat spot betting and the leaking of inside sporting information for financial gain.
The federal and state governments have already announced plans to phase out the publication and broadcast of live odds during professional sporting fixtures—either through self regulation by individual sports, or by legislation.
The ministers are also expected to support a national code of conduct for sporting organizations and the establishment of a national sports integrity unit.
"Most sports fans I talk to are worried gambling could influence young people and make them think that sport is just about gambling," Arbib told the paper.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates told the AOC's annual general meeting last month that match fixing is the new major threat to the integrity of world sports, similar to the effects of doping in the 1980s and 1990s.
Coates called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to set up a national sports betting authority, which would operate in a similar way to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
The AOC has toughened the anti-gambling clauses to be included in team membership agreements that Australian athletes must sign before the 2012 London Olympics, as well.
"If the agreements do not already make it clear that being involved in betting or gambling on the games or themselves, or providing inside information for such activities, is conduct we will not tolerate, they will now," Coates said. AP