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By ESPN Staff

FA steps up efforts to tackle corruption issue

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The English Football Association plans to hire more investigative staff to tackle the issue of corruption in the domestic game.

'We have made it our priority to strengthen the Compliance Department so we can tackle the issue of corruption head on,' chief executive Brian Barwick told the FA's official Web site on Friday.

'We are committed to thoroughly investigating any wrongdoing in the game. The department is doing an excellent job and by bringing in additional resources, we will be able to build on that work,' he added after a meeting of the FA Board.

The FA reminded everyone involved in the game that they were expected to come forward with evidence of breaches of rules.

The BBC television programme 'Panorama' made accusations last week of corruption and rule-breaking by managers and agents.

All the accused have denied any wrongdoing, with several raising the prospect of legal action against the BBC.

The programme prompted the FA to launch a series of inquiries and world soccer's governing body FIFA is also monitoring a situation it said was not good for the game.

That was followed by claims this week from England manager Steve McClaren's agent Colin Gordon that millions of pounds was leaving the game through illegal payments.

However, Gordon said he did not have any evidence.

Barwick added: 'There have been a large number of people in football making allegations of corruption through the media.

'We want to reiterate that any participants in the game with evidence of wrongdoing have a duty to bring this evidence to our attention.'

In January, the News of the World newspaper quoted the then-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as saying three unnamed Premier League clubs had been involved in bungs.

Luton Town manager Mike Newell also said he had been offered such illegal inducements.

Former London police chief John Stevens has been leading a Premier League inquiry into allegations of illegal payments and will deliver the findings on Monday.

'The FA has already contacted a substantial number of people and media organisations in the last year to ask them to provide evidence following media reports,' Barwick said.

'A number have provided evidence which is the subject of ongoing inquiries or has resulted in action being taken.

'The majority have provided cooperation but were often unable to provide any firm evidence of wrongdoing. Regrettably, a number have chosen not to cooperate.

'We are now in the process of contacting all of those who have made claims in recent days including former players and managers,' he added.

'It is important that we sift the innuendo and rumour from the facts. Any evidence that is provided to us will be thoroughly investigated and, whenever appropriate, charges will be brought.'