Nowhere safe from fixers - FIFAs policeman
Published : 17 Jan 2013 20:16:52
FIFA corruption-buster Ralf Mutschke admits that no football league in the world is safe from the grim spectre of match-fixing, a global problem made worse by the influence of organised crime.
Mutschke, a former Interpol executive and a police officer for 30 years, said the problem of corruption is global and exists at all levels of the game.
"Is there a region which is more vulnerable to matches being manipulated? My answer is no," said the German official ahead of an international symposium on match-fixing taking place in Rome.
In 2012 alone, FIFA's anti-corruption investigations involved around 20 countries.
"These were in America, Africa, Europe, Asia. What this shows is that the problem is worldwide."
Highly-organised criminal networks are increasingly influential with 50 leagues outside of Europe being particularly vulnerable where vast riches to be made by gangs happy to take the risks in lightly-policed competitions.
"A man convicted of rigging matches came to meet me in Zurich. He told me, straight to my face, that organised crime got involved in match-fixing because the risks are low and the profits high," he said.
"Often a bribe will be a cold approach in the corridors of a stadium. But the craziest thing is that they are not afraid because nobody reports it," he said.
The international nature of the problem was highlighted by the case involving Singapore businessman Wilson Raj Perumal who was suspected of rigging games in several countries and was jailed in Finland in 2011.
His name was also cited in cases in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The anti-corruption meeting, which started in Rome on Thursday, features FIFA, UEFA and Interpol.
"We cannot succeed on our own," said FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke. "Europe must have a common legislation. Without that, it'll be easier to fix matches.
"It needs co-operation between police, the justice systems and the football authorities.
"I cannot assure you that it'll ever happen, but we must build a wall against match-fixing that is so high that it cannot be crossed."