UEFA's commitment to combating the dangers of match-fixing continued at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals in Slovakia, with each of the eight finalist teams delivered a presentation highlighting the dangers and warning signs.
"We do not want to see football pitches becoming crime scenes. This is a real threat to football," UEFA intelligence coordinator Graham Peaker stressed to the squads. Underlining the impact on players and the game, as well as the methods criminals use, the message was emphasised that match-fixing will not be tolerated.
The threat to football's integrity was one aspect of the talk, but Peaker ensured the players were aware that the people behind the schemes are not just a danger to the game's image, but to the players themselves. "These are dangerous people," he stressed. "We want to protect you. We are dealing with people who have no respect for human life."
A video displaying a fixed match was shown – defenders standing still at corners and letting forwards sail past them without a challenge. However, the comical nature of the play carried a serious message, and the players were alerted about warnings to look out for off the pitch as well as on it.
"People may approach with money and gifts, and compliment you on your play. Then they return a few weeks later and say 'I did something for you, now you do something for me, we are friends'. This is how it works. You have to be wary, you have to say no. It is important you reject any approach."
Importantly, the youngsters were informed of the channels through which they can anonymously report any suspect activity, and notified that UEFA monitors 32,000 games a year. "You know what is right and what is wrong. You have to recognise it. Reject it by saying no, and report it," Peaker told the teams.
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