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INTERPOL conference addresses threats posed by match-fixing

Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

Representatives from law enforcement agencies, AFC Member Associations and the betting industry are meeting in Kuala Lumpur for INTERPOL’s international conference ‘Match fixing: The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game’ to identify the tactics used by organised crime networks behind this global threat to the sport and boost prevention efforts.

Some 200 participants are attending the two-day conference (20 and 21 February) organised by INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport unit, as part of the joint INTERPOL/FIFA Training, Education and Prevention initiative, and in partnership with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong told delegates: “We need to admit that match-fixing is a real danger to football’s ethical values and needs to be eliminated to preserve the sanctity of the sport.

“Your participation in this conference proves that we are ready to work hand-in-hand to eradicate this cancer from the game. Match-fixing is too complex and widespread for one organization to fight it alone. To fight this, we need a joint and coordinated effort,” added Jilong.

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Alex Soosay asked the Member Associations to commit themselves in the fight against match-fixing.

“We look forward to embracing our 47 Member Associations in a very special way by eradicating all negative elements which has plagued our beautiful game in recent years,” he said.

“AFC will pledge to continue working along with Interpol to deliver a series of training, education and prevention workshops in 2013 and 2014 at both regional and national levels.

“I would also like to highlight to all our Member Associations of their statutory obligation as it is your responsibility to fight match-fixing and corruption. We need your cooperation and commitment to implement what you learn here in the next two days.”

INTERPOL’s Director of Capacity Building and Training, Dale Sheehan said it was essential that all those involved in combating this crime join resources and ‘take back the game of football’.

“Criminals can make millions in illicit profits from match-fixing with little risk of being detected and will exploit every opportunity. By bringing together partners we are raising awareness and understanding of the problem,” said Sheehan.

“Sports and fair play are the very fabric of our society and youth and the impact of match-fixing, including murder, suicide, assault and threats has the ability to undermine that very fabric,” he concluded.

FIFA’s Head of the Security, Ralf Mutschke said the vast number of games played and the massive increase in online betting make the sport an easy target for organised crime.

“Where money flows, corruption often follows. We need and must target our action at a global level. FIFA cannot fight and win this battle against corruption in football alone; involving all parties that need to work together is the key to the battle against corruption in football,” said Mr Mutschke.

High on the conference agenda are current and anticipated future trends in match-fixing and irregular/illegal betting and the adverse influence of the Asian betting markets and organised crime on football.

Identifying current good practice, ways of enhancing good governance and the importance of protecting players and initiatives in training, education, prevention and investigation are also key issues to be discussed.

(AFC Press Release)