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.”