SINGAPORE - Illegal betting yields an
estimated $90 billion annually, a figure equivalent to legal
betting, FIFA's security chief Chris Eaton said on Wednesday,
emphasising the need to curb corruption in football.
Football match-fixing brought "huge fraudulent winnings"
against legal and illegal gambling institutions, Eaton added,
although he did not have any figures on how much gambling on football is worth specifically.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week pledged 20 million
euros for a dedicated anti-corruption unit
based in Singapore to fight match-fixing, which police officials
said was a low-risk, high profit form of crime.
"Criminality involved in fixing football matches is global,
enormous and organised," Eaton said. "Football is too respected
globally to not be protected."
"These are criminals taking advantage. They are not to be
respected, they are not Robin Hoods, they are not good people.
They hurt players and they destroy careers."
The unit, in a partnership with Interpol, aims to develop a
programme for football officials, players and administrators that
warns against match-fixing and alerts them to how it dishonours
the game and might ruin their careers.
It will involve international education and training over
e-learning. Interpol will also brief and debrief players before
and after every competition to ensure they are fully aware of
what match-fixing might do to their careers.
"We protect young players, we protect young referees by
teaching them to resist the temptations that these people are
trying to take advantage of," Eaton, a one-time Interpol
But the unit will not actively seek to clamp down or
"FIFA is a football management organisation. It is not an
investigation organisation. We don't conduct a lot of security
operations with a little bit of football. We conduct a lot of
football with a little bit of security," Eaton said.
"Prosecution is not my priority, in fact, not a priority at
The anti-corruption education wing will be based in
Singapore due to its low tolerance for corruption, and Eaton
believes the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has a model
that is one of the most committed to anti-corruption in the
"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 to set up this initiative than in Singapore,"
Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble told a Zurich conference
However, some people might have slipped through the cracks.
Eaton recently said in an interview that an "academy of
match-fixers" run out of the wealthy city-state might be
responsible for rigging matches around the world.
A Singaporean man has been arrested in Finland on such
Eaton was with Interpol for more than a decade, and was
manager of operations before joining FIFA in April last year.
Bringing with him an extensive police background that has
allowed FIFA to tap into Interpol information more readily than
it could before his appointment, Eaton said the creation of the
unit is timely enough.
"I don't believe FIFA has been aware of the magnitude of the
problem," he said.
But while the unit will serve the purposes of "prevention,
training and protection" initially, he does not rule out the
possibility of a more investigative role going forward.
"This may be a future opportunity, a further development in
that direction after this first phase of the partnership is
firmed and solidified."
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