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EU urges against match-fixing

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- European Union sports ministers sought Thursday to forge a united front against match-fixing to combat what they consider one of the most serious threats to modern sports.

At a meeting in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, they called for "dissuasive, effective and proportionate" criminal and disciplinary sanctions against offenders, especially in serious, cross-border cases.

They urged increased coordination on a European and international level and improved cooperation between law enforcement, governments, sports officials and betting operators.

They also urged improved monitoring to detect match-fixing cases and backed initiatives to raise awareness about the problem.

EU Sport Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said match-fixing has grown to such an extent that no country can avoid it or counter it alone.

"We've all agreed that we must unite forces ... all authorities must cooperate in order to have results," Vassiliou told a news conference. "No country is excluded ... they may not have a problem this year, but they will arise the following year and beyond."

Vassiliou said the EU isn't now seeking to push for uniform, EU-wide legislation against match-fixing despite legal discrepancies in member countries. Instead, the EU is throwing its support behind a proposed Council of Europe convention aimed at establishing common anti-match fixing practices.

A string of recent soccer match-fixing scandals in countries such as Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Israel and Finland has cast a shadow over the sport.

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