Soccer

FIFA wages war on match-fixing

2012-01-06 08:58

Zurich - FIFA is working with informers inside organised crime syndicates to help protect the Soccer World Cup from match-fixing and betting plots.

FIFA's security director Chris Eaton outlined an increasingly aggressive strategy on Thursday as football's world governing body seeks to stop international matches being fixed for tens of millions of dollars in profit.

"What we're doing now is developing sources both in criminal organisations and football that will advise us," Eaton said in an interview published by FIFA's website.

"We are creating a hostile environment for match-fixers to make them realise we will expose them, name them, and make them subject to investigation somewhere in the world."

FIFA's pro-active plan to get information from inside crime syndicates is a direct response to its 208 national member bodies being targeted to help fixing plots.

"The infiltration of serious criminals into our associations and football generally is the most pressing issue," Eaton said.

From the fixing scandals and allegations which have emerged since the 2010 World Cup, FIFA believes crime gangs have received inside help from football officials to organise international matches and select corrupt referees.

FIFA will open a whistleblowers' hotline next month offering rewards and amnesties if players, referees and officials provide detailed information about their involvement or offers to help fix matches.

The three-month campaign comes before qualifying for the 2014 World Cup intensifies this year.

Eaton said he believes FIFA's showpiece tournament is most at risk during the 832 scheduled qualifiers involving teams which are unlikely to reach the finals in Brazil.

His team to combat fixing conspiracies includes specialist investigators in Kuala Lumpur, Colombia and Jordan, with a global co-ordinator based in Britain.

"This is about international - transcontinental in fact - organised crime," Eaton said. "We see the footprints of Singaporean criminals throughout Europe, Africa and Central America."

The Australian former detective acknowledged that his "small department" will rely on "detailed partnerships" with law enforcement agencies worldwide.

However, Eaton dismissed suggestions that football and world sports would benefit from creating an anti-corruption body organised on lines similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"I don't believe we need a WADA. WADA is designed to deal with cheats who 'cheat to win.' We're talking about criminals who 'corrupt to lose,'" he said.

"What we need is an independent investigative ability across sports. You certainly need a match-fixing code."

Eaton said the ethics of any sport were best controlled among those who played and ran it - "in the hearts and minds of all participants."

To achieve that, FIFA has invested $25.6 million in a 10-year project with Interpol, the global police liaison agency, to operate a football education center in Singapore.

Eaton said the centre would open in 2012, and begin working at its first FIFA tournament when the Women's Under-20 World Cup is played, likely in Japan.

"They will talk to players and officials. It's about football waking up and resisting - it's time for football to fight back against match-fixers," he said.

Read more on:    fifa
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