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Feb 20, 2013

Nations urged to back match-fixing fight

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- FIFA's head of security on Wednesday said that the fight against match-fixing will ultimately flounder without the full support of governments across the world.

Ralf Mutschke said he hopes a Singaporean businessman accused of heading a crime syndicate that made millions by betting on rigged Italian games will be brought to face the courts with the help of Singaporean authorities.

Mutschke, speaking at a conference in Malaysia co-hosted by Interpol and the Asian Football Confederation to discuss match-fixing, said referees and players are being banned for life for corruption, but the masterminds of the crimes still walk free because of legislative weaknesses.

"We have to bring in the governments because they have to change legislations and laws, because a lot of countries do not have proper laws fighting match manipulation and corruption," Mutschke said. "Talking is nice, but we have to come to a conclusion that it's time now for action."

Mutschke pointed to the case of Singaporean businessman Tan Seet Eng -- known as Dan Tan -- for whom Italian authorities have issued an arrest warrant but have been unable to take into custody because it cannot be served on him while he is in Asia.

He said FIFA would not sanction Singapore's soccer association as it is not responsible for arresting Tan.

Tan "needs to be brought to justice ... but it's out of our jurisdiction," Mutschke said. "Why should FIFA punish the entire Singapore if it's a political problem? The problem has to be solved on a political level."

Singapore's police have said the city state's authorities are reviewing information submitted by the Italians before deciding what to do.

Mutschke said FIFA is working to ensure that betting syndicates do not infiltrate the next World Cup in Brazil, providing special training for referees and teams, and setting up a round-the-clock hotline to report any irregularities.

"Up to now, to the best of my knowledge, there was no World Cup infiltrated by organized crime," he said.

Zhang Jilong, acting president of the Asian Football Confederation, acknowledged Asia has emerged as the financial hub for match-fixing syndicates and must make more of an effort to fight it.

"No continent is now left untouched by this disease," he said. "We will need joint efforts from all parties. ...we have big stakes to see our game survive."

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