Sepp Blatter halted a whistle-blowing programme designed to help
root out match-fixing in football before it could even start to
work, FIFA's outgoing head of security said on Wednesday.
The plan to grant anonymity and protection to players and
officials targeted by illegal gambling groups was announced amid
great fanfare by world football's ruling body last September.
It was quietly put on ice two weeks later when Blatter
decided to integrate it into broader efforts to clean up
governance at FIFA, which has been dogged by allegations of
corruption over the awards of World Cups to Russia in 2018 and
Qatar in 2022 and its own election process.
"President Blatter suspended the programme specifically
focused on match-fixing to allow both the Executive Committee
and the independent governance committee to determine whether
this should be applied against the totality of the
organisation," FIFA's head of security Chris Eaton told the
Soccerex European Forum.
"It's true to say that I was disappointed but I understood.
I'm pleased that they saw it as being a valuable programme to
apply in a more total way," Eaton later told reporters.
Mark Pieth, a Swiss corporate governance expert, heads the
governance committee and is due to present his findings to FIFA
Eaton, an Australian former policeman, joined FIFA only two
years ago. He said his decision to move to the Qatar-based
International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) was not
connected to the suspension of the whistle-blowing scheme.
The ICSS, a private body, was set up last year to help
protect major sports events. Eaton said he was pleased to be
working across a wider range of sports.
"I am looking forward to broadening the responsibility
because the common issues here - it's the same bookmakers and
the same criminals," he said.
Football has been hit by match-fixing scandals in a number of
leagues around the world. Three Pakistani cricketers were jailed
last year for agreeing to fix part of a test match against
England at Lord's.
Eaton said the problems stemmed from unregulated gambling
markets in South-East Asia, which were being exploited by
organised crime groups.
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