Law enforcement, football unite to tackle match-fixing

Friday, January 18, 2013
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
Rome: International efforts against corruption in football took a significant step forward after the Secretaries General of INTERPOL, FIFA and UEFA united for the first time against the danger posed by match-fixing which generates billions in illegal betting.

Addressing the landmark international conference entitled ‘Match-fixing: The ugly side of the beautiful game’, INTERPOL Chief Ronald K. Noble, FIFA’s Jérôme Valcke, Gianni Infantino from UEFA and the Chief of Italian State Police, Antonio Manganelli, underlined how the footballing and law enforcement worlds stand shoulder to shoulder in tackling match-fixing at the national, regional and international levels.

“Match-fixing is about the money,” said the INTERPOL Chief. “Illegal betting which drives match-fixing encompasses a market that is said to be in the range of hundreds of billions of euros per year, with estimates that the large bookmakers have revenues on the same scale as the Coca-Cola company.”

“Criminal organizations benefit from match-fixing both in the profits it promises and in its ability to launder their ill-gotten gains from other criminal activities. Match-fixing is clearly a many-headed dragon that we must slay with a coordinated national and international effort,” said Noble, highlighting that this first European conference also brought together the Secretaries General of INTERPOL, FIFA and UEFA for the first time in history.

“Today, almost 300 million people play football in the world. This extraordinary popularity gives FIFA responsibilities. One of them – a major one – is to protect the integrity of the game. And this responsibility is also a statutory objective of FIFA. Therefore, the fight against match manipulation is a top priority for FIFA,” said Valcke.

“At our end, we have to ensure that we have appropriate rules, that everything we do is transparent, that our decisions benefit our sport and that everyone who cheats is punished. But FIFA cannot do it alone, that is why we need strategic alliances with INTERPOL and the authorities and moreover the support of the member associations who must work closely with their national law enforcement agencies to send out together the powerful signal of immutable commitment, progress and success against organized crime,” added Valcke.

“We will continue to fight this cancer,” said UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino.

“With our continued programme of education to players, match officials and coaches, our sophisticated monitoring systems and our close links with law enforcement agencies and state authorities, under no circumstances will we surrender to match-fixers,” said Infantino.

“The Italian National Police is proud to host this first European conference on match fixing which brings together the key players from all sectors involved in this collective fight against the organized crime networks which seek to profit from the beautiful game. The Italian police remain committed to protecting football and all sport from corruption,” said Prefect Antonio Manganelli, Head of the Italian National Police.

The conference comes under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport unit, as part of the joint INTERPOL/FIFA Training, Education and Prevention initiative, and is in partnership with the Italian Ministry of the Interior and UEFA.

Some 200 delegates from 50 countries have gathered in Rome to discuss the threats posed to football by match-fixing and ways to further improve its prevention and investigation. Delegates include officials from international organizations including FIFPro, Sportaccord, national football associations, national FA integrity officers, players and referee representatives, betting organizations, gambling regulatory authorities and law enforcement.

The conference will address current and anticipated future trends in match-fixing, the adverse influence of the Asian betting markets and organized crime on football, ways of enhancing good governance in the football family, and the importance of protecting players and initiatives in training, education, prevention and investigation.
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