Global football corruption helps drive the criminal underworld’s domination of prostitution, drug-trafficking and gun-running, an international symposium into match-fixing heard on Friday.
Around 200 delegates attending the FIFA, UEFA and Interpol meeting into corruption in the sport, were told that it was crucial the match-fixers felt the full force of the law when cases are prosecuted.
However, it was acknowledged that football needs to convince hard-pushed judicial bodies that illegal betting and results-rigging should be pursued with the same vigour reserved for other high-profile crimes.
“We must convince the authorities,” said Interpol secretary-general, Ronald Noble.
“When a prosecutor tells me: ‘I have more important things to do — prostitution, drugs, gun-running. I can’t just concentrate on a fixed third division game’, I tell him that this is not just a small investment by organised crime.
“It is also reinvested in prostitution or drugs…”
Delegates from 50 countries also heard that players, officials as well as leading international companies involved in the game need to work together to rid the sport of a problem that costs “hundreds of billions” of euros.
The conference, titled “Match-fixing: The ugly side of the beautiful game”, also illustrated the need for thorough investigation techniques, like those used to track down doping cheats, as well as vigilance over betting patterns.
UEFA currently monitors 32,000 matches a year in Europe while FIFA is working on an early warning system to alert authorities into betting anomalies before and during games.
“It is true that it is very difficult to investigate because you can bet from anywhere in the world,” said Noble.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke underlined the importance of a “strategic alliance with Interpol, the authorities and especially the support of member associations”.
Noble added that organised criminal gangs also launder their profits from football corruption.
“Match-fixing is a dragon with many heads which can only be severed by an international effort,” he said.