FIFA keen to fight corruption

2012-01-10 16:52

Zurich - FIFA on Tuesday announced a series of new measures to combat match-fixing, including an appeal for assistance to Interpol and the establishment of protection programmes for informants.

"Football currently faces unprecedented problems concerning fixed matches, the effects of which are felt at a national, regional and international level," read a statement from world football's governing body.

These criminal practices "damage the integrity of FIFA and the reputation of football's organising bodies," added FIFA, which endured a 2011 plagued by corruption scandals.

"The biggest threat today stems from international criminals who conspire and sometimes succeed in manipulating international football matches."

In order to clamp down on match-fixing, which is linked to illegal betting, FIFA intends to put in place an early warning system to detect suspicious activity in advance.

FIFA will also appeal to international police organisation Interpol and to national police force for help in the fight against match-fixing.

This year, the organisation plans to send investigators to Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.

FIFA also wants to establish an amnesty to protect sources who provide information about match-fixing and set up dedicated telephone lines, email addresses and websites enabling people to anonymously warn the authorities about rigged games.

There are also plans to set up a rehabilitation programme for players, coaches and administrators caught up in corruption.

Chris Eaton, FIFA's head of security, says that "2012 will be the year when football reacts against match-fixing; a fundamentally important year".

"The greatest enemy is naivety, in that people think, 'This is the wonderful game, who would try to take advantage of this beautiful game?'" he said.

"Well, the answer is that there are lots of ways to take advantage, and one of them is through match-fixing.

"Our most important task is to prevent match-fixing, so 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."

Eaton says that between €400 and €500 billion ($500bn and $630bn) are generated each year by betting on sport - both legal and illegal - with between five and 15 billion euros stemming from fixed matches.

"It's a huge attraction for organised crime," he said.

The significance of match-fixing was demonstrated on Monday by Simone Farina, a second-division Italian player who was invited to FIFA's Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich after he refused to participate in a rigged match.