DECLAN HILL admitted that he was “overwhelmed” at receiving the Play the Game 2009 award, in an exclusive interview with CU Today writes James Bourne.
Hill spoke frequently throughout the conference, most prominently on match fixing. The Play the Game Commission was impressed by the effort and tenacity in his work – stating that he was an “invaluable source of inspiration” as well as his “groundbreaking” book, ‘The Fix’. Speaking afterwards, Hill said: “I was utterly blown away. It’s an extraordinary honour to win.
“The roster of previous winners is extraordinary, and then there’s a group of people here who have dedicated themselves to the benefits of sport.”
Previous winners include Sandro Donati, who won in 2007 for his tireless anti-doping work, and former volleyball president Mario Goijman, who won in 2005 but was unable to speak at this year’s conference after being detained for outstanding debts.
Hill, in his speech, referenced several colleagues, but spoke of “great admiration” for Bob Monro, whose influence Hill was keen to admit.
Describing Monro’s work in establishing football at the Mathare youth project in Kenya, Hill said: “It was, really, the only thing in their life that was utterly free of corruption – and it meant so much to them. That really became a driving force for me.”
As well as receiving his prize, Hill is also invited to speak at the next Play the Game conference in 2011, and he inferred potential themes for his talk in two years’ time.
“What I’m trying to do is set up an anti-corruption agency – a universal one – for all sporting communities, because what’s happening is that there’s an unprecedented sea-change going on in the world today through the globalisation of gambling.
“Most people still regard globalisation as a one-way street, but what they fail to realise is a global gambling market – much of it illegal – and the people who destroyed the leagues through corruption in other countries are now coming back up the pipeline.”