Fight against match-fixing ‘will never finish’

The fight against match-fixing in football ”will never
finish,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said Thursday
at a two-day conference on the subject.

On Wednesday, FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke said the
governing body of football needs more help from national law
enforcement agencies worldwide, and it has asked Interpol to
persuade its members to help protect the world’s most popular
sport.

”Illegal betting on football is everywhere in the world, no
country is immune to it,” 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 two-day
conference on match-fixing in Rome, all while Italy continues to
deal with its own damaging case.

”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 that 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 continues to deal with its own damaging case which saw
Juventus coach Antonio Conte handed 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 that there is more to
come soon but would not say more ”otherwise that will become the
news and it will obscure this conference.”