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Jan 17, 2013

Interpol: Match-fixing is rampant

ROME -- The fight against match-fixing in soccer "will never finish," Interpol secretary general said Thursday at a two-day conference on the problem.

"Illegal betting on football is everywhere in the world, no country is immune to it," Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said. "It is a hard job, a road which will never finish, but there is so much we can do and we will continue to fight, blow by blow."

Along with FIFA and UEFA, Interpol is leading the conference on match-fixing.

On Wednesday, FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke said the governing body of soccer needs more help from national law enforcement agencies worldwide. He said FIFA had asked Interpol to persuade its members to help protect the world's most popular sport.

"Why does match-fixing spread so thoroughly throughout the world? We all know the answer. In short, it is about money," Noble said. "This international business, as you have already heard, is also a big business.

"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."

FIFA was involved in 20 match-fixing investigations worldwide last year and has said the key to successfully resolving the problem lies in raising integrity levels by educating referees, players and officials to resist approaches by fixers.

"What we have to look at is from the beginning, from the lower leagues, from where the kids are starting to play football," FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said. "The most important part in this fight is education.

"There is no chance we will change the system without education. If you don't explain to someone why it is wrong, then there is no chance match-manipulation will not just move on over the next decade."

FIFA is working on creating a global network of dedicated integrity officers employed by each member to help police 1,500 matches -- the World Cup, national team competitions and friendlies -- that the body has responsibility for each year.

UEFA, in March 2011, created a similar network among its 53 members, enabling it to monitor matches -- and illegal betting patterns -- more closely.

"More than 99 percent of the matches we monitor are normal," UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino said. "0.7 percent of the matches, more than 100 matches per year, are showing some irregular betting patterns, which does not mean that the match has been fixed, it is just an indicator that something might not have gone correctly with that match.

"One could say, `Well, 0.7 percent, come on, that's nothing.' For us, even 0.001, even one match out of 32,000 matches, is one match too much and we have to fight for this not to happen anymore."

Italy is dealing with its own damaging case with Juventus coach Antonio Conte, who received a 10-month ban -- later reduced to four -- for not reporting evidence during his time at Siena.

Several Serie A clubs had points deducted and a number of players were banned, while more than 50 people were arrested.

Police chief Antonio Manganelli hinted there is more to come soon but would not say more "otherwise that will become the news and it will obscure this conference."

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