UEFA has stressed its commitment to driving match-fixing and corruption out of football at its latest regional integrity officers seminar in Frankfurt.
Following previous successful regional events in Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in April and Kyiv (Ukraine) at the end of June, UEFA integrity officers from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland came to host association Germany for an assessment of the pan-European campaign against match-fixing, and discussions on how to adopt a common approach to the issue in the future.
UEFA integrity officers act as liaison officers between the football authorities and state law enforcement agencies with respect to suspected match-fixing. They exchange information and experience with the UEFA administration, monitor disciplinary proceedings and coordinate relevant action, as well as organising invaluable education programmes for players, referees and coaches.
UEFA is making funds available each year to its member associations to help finance the position of integrity officer. UEFA's own integrity officer works alongside the national integrity officers, supporting the operation of the network and overseeing intelligence-gathering and information exchange.
European football's governing body has made the fight against match-fixing, betting fraud and corruption a number-one priority. Delegates in Frankfurt were reminded of the view expressed by UEFA President Michel Platini – that football will not survive if the results of matches are known in advance, and that match-fixing represents the biggest menace to the well-being of the game.
UEFA presented its betting fraud detection system, in which approximately 30,000 matches are being monitored in domestic first and second divisions and cup competitions, as well as in UEFA competitions. It also explained its education drive, warning players, referees, coaches and administrators of the potential dangers if they become involved in match-fixing. Several of the associations in attendance also presented their own activities in the fight against match-fixing.
UEFA intelligence officer Graham Peaker said that it was UEFA's duty to protect the game from match-fixing. "A zero-tolerance policy is in place – anyone found guilty of match-fixing will be banned from football for life," he said. Peaker explained that all football matches should be played "in a spirit of fairness and respect, with the outcome determined solely on the merits of the competing teams, and with the result of the match remaining until the final whistle".
UEFA is also working closely with state authorities, and has opened a hotline and reporting platform to enable people to contact UEFA if they had information on match-fixing. Players and match officials who were approached with a view to fixing a match are also being urged to report the approach, either to UEFA or their national association.
UEFA's own integrity officer, Urs Kluser, emphasised the same message – that anyone caught fixing matches would be given severe punishments. He thanked the integrity officers for their dedication and professional work in co-operating with the state authorities.
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