Silent runner

President of World Athletics and member of the International Olympic Committee, Sebastian Coe, is a director of a company which has significant control over Fifa's first official betting partner Betano.

By Philippe Auclair

The appointment of double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe as director of Czech 'lottery operator' Sazka Entertainment AG in September 2021 was understandably seen as a major coup for that group, which was vying for a licence to operate the British National Lottery at the time. Coe, a key figure behind London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, was and remains one of the most influential personalities in global sport, to the extent that his name is often mentioned in connection with a possible bid for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee when the mandate of incumbent Thomas Bach expires in two years' time.

He is also a former Conservative British MP and was still a sitting peer at the House of Lords at the time of his appointment (*), with enviable connections within the British establishment, something which Sazka, which already operated similar operations in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic, must have thought would come in handy when trying to convince the UK Gambling Commission that they were the right people to take over from Camelot next year. The stake was considerable: the British National Lottery had a turnover of just under  10 billion US dollars in 2021, the last year for which accounts are available.

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