Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
FIFA has warned against a new approach being used by match-fixers, who are posing as sponsors and investors in order to influence players and coaches. “Fixers are not using sponsors, but are acting as sponsors and investors based on false promises, sometimes even using false identities, business cards and companies”, a spokesperson told the Sports Integrity Initiative. “Such fixers offer money and sometimes even players and coaches to given clubs, thus enabling them to gain control on the pitch”.
Such an approach has already been used by criminals posing as football agents, in order to trick young players into handing over money with the promise of a trial at a top club. FIFA said that the new approach had been identified through the ongoing findings of FIFA’s Security Division, which was set up in 2012 and is responsible for all security issues related to the game, including match-fixing. “FIFA’s Security Division works with different cooperative partners and gathers regular information through different platforms, including a confidential reporting system”, continued the spokesperson. “A diversification of betting patterns has been identified as certain groups intend to explore new betting options, including the use of sponsoring to infiltrate the game. Even though this approach is not new, plenty of suspicious advances have been identified in different regions in the recent past.”
FIFA recommended that clubs carry out due diligence checks on unknown people approaching a club, such as new sponsors or investors, and report the checks to their national association, confederation and FIFA. “Speaking generally, FIFA is already monitoring the betting market through its subsidiary, Early Warning System (EWS), which includes the FIFA/EWS Integrity Hotline”, continued the spokesperson. “Besides, a global awareness programme on the increasing threat of match manipulation and the need to implement integrity initiatives at local level has been implemented in 196 member associations. As stated in the past, FIFA also considers that a close collaboration with police and law-enforcement authorities is essential in the fight against match manipulation and thus we encourage our member associations to promote a regular exchange with the respective organisations in their countries.”
Ralf Mutschke, head of FIFA’s Security Division since its creation in 2012, yesterday said that FIFA could not wait to repair its relationship with Interpol before tackling match-fixing. “The fixers are not suspending their programme against football, therefore we cannot wait for Interpol to come back”, he told Reuters. “Football is constantly attacked by organised crime and this is certainly a serious and global threat”. Interpol suspended its relationship with FIFA last month, following decisions by the US Department of Justice and Swiss authorities to launch investigations into the organisation.
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