Category: Sports / January 16, 2013 10:22 AM EST
FIFA’S head of security said on Tuesday he is concerned that organized criminal gangs are targeting around 50 national soccer leagues for possible match-fixing and any country is vulnerable regardless of its record on corruption.
"Well, yes about 2012 we were looking into twenty cases from all over the globe, and we had in addition, FIFA had in addition, about 230 cases of disciplinary actions which were handled on a national level and which were forwarded," FIFA head of security Ralf Mutschke told Reuters TV at FIFA headquarters.
Match-fixing has become a huge concern for soccer's authorities in the last few years as criminal gambling rings pay players, referees or officials to manipulate matches and make enormous amounts of money by betting on the outcome.
"If we are talking about match manipulation conducted by organized crime it is purely done for betting purposes. Betting purposes, they fix a match and they bet in South East Asia huge amounts of money and gain profits from that. They are approaching in particular people who are on the pitch, which means players or referees, mainly by grooming over longer periods, following them, trying to asses their vulnerability, but they also do have lucky tries, what we call cold approaches, to confront a person with match manipulation if he is willing to accept or not," he said.
FIFA set up a hotline for players and referees to report approaches and the organization wants each of FIFA's 209 member associations to appoint integrity officers to collaborate.