ZURICH - FIFA pledged to donate 20 million
euros to Interpol to help fight match-fixing on
Monday and received a chilling warning from leading police
officials about the extent of the problem.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters the grant would
be used to set up a dedicated anti-corruption unit in Singapore
to tackle what police officials said was a low-risk, high profit
form of crime.
"It is crucial for us to go together with political
authorities, with police authorities to fight those who want to
destroy our game," Blatter said.
"I'm a sad president because, after 36 years in FIFA, I
thought we would be at the end of a wonderful development of the
Interpol secretary general Ron Noble said that match-fixers
used "false and violent" methods to move money around the world
and a German official said it had become more attractive to
criminals than drug trafficking.
"I'm not surprised by the efforts of trans-national crime,"
Noble told reporters. "It's a high profit with a low risk of
getting caught and with online bets, there is the opportunity to
make huge amounts.
"It's a perfect mixture of elements for transnational
He added: "Asia is a hotbed of betting and match-fixing and
Singapore is among the least corrupt countries on the planet so
there may be no better place than to set up this initiative in
Bochum police commissioner Friedhelm Althans told reporters:
"Working in international drug trafficking is very dangerous,
here they have a very low risk and earn more money than they
earned years before by drug trafficking,"
Althans added there were "four, five or six" more criminal
gangs currently active in Europe similar to the one which Bochum
police smashed in 2009.
Prosecutors believe the 200-strong ring bribed players,
coaches, referees and officials to fix games in a number of
European countries and then made money by betting on the
Six people are currently on trial in Bochum and another 14
are expected to follow.
Althans said that in the Bochum investigation, alone, around
300 matches were under suspicion including internationals,
Champions League qualifying games, Europa League games down to
the German fourth division.
"Around 1.7 million euros was paid to players and referees
and this is barely the tip of the iceberg," he said. "We have a
new phenomenon of organised crime.
"There is indeed a worldwide network of people active in
this field, it isn't just about pursuing individual clubs and
players but about attacking the roots and drive out these
Althans said that one problem was that sentences in some
countries were too light.
"In some countries, penalties are a maximum of two years'
prison and that's the wrong way."
FIFA is currently investigating two international friendlies
played in Turkey in February in which seven penalties were
awarded, one of them taken twice.
The six match officials involved have been suspended pending
FIFA has already tightened the rules around the arrangement
of international friendlies.
Noble, however, said he believed that most corruption was at
the lower levels.
"The cases involve low level matches, lower level leagues.
At it's highest levels, it's my opinion that football is a clean
sport and what spectators see happen on the pitch is
legitimately happening on the pitch.
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