Singapore - Soccer match-fixing yields $90bn annually, a
figure equivalent to legal betting, Fifa's security chief Chris Eaton said on Wednesday,
emphasising the need to curb corruption in the sport.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter last week pledged €20m
for a dedicated anti-corruption unit based in Singapore to fight match-fixing,
which police officials said was a low-risk, high profit form of crime.
"Criminality involved in fixing football matches is
global, enormous and organised," Eaton said. "Football is too
respected globally to not be protected."
"These are criminals taking advantage. They are not to
be respected, they are not Robin Hoods, they are not good people. They hurt
players and they destroy careers."
The unit, in a partnership with Interpol, aims to develop a
programme for soccer officials, players and administrators that warns against
match-fixing and alerts them to how it dishonours the game and might ruin their
It will involve international education and training over
e-learning. Interpol will also brief and debrief players before and after every
competition to ensure they are fully aware of what match-fixing might do to
"We protect young players, we protect young referees by
teaching them to resist the temptations that these people are trying to take
advantage of," Eaton, a one-time Interpol officer, said.
But the unit will not actively seek to clamp down or
"Fifa is a football management organisation. It is not
an investigation organisation. We don't conduct a lot of security operations
with a little bit of football. We conduct a lot of football with a little bit
of security," Eaton said.
"Prosecution is not my priority, in fact, not a
priority at all."
The anti-corruption education wing will be in Singapore due
to its low tolerance for corruption, and Eaton believes the Football
Association of Singapore (FAS) has a model that is one of the most committed to
anti-corruption in the world.
However, some people might have slipped through the cracks.
Eaton recently said in an interview that an "academy of
match-fixers" run out of the wealthy city-state might be responsible for
rigging matches around the world.
A Singaporean man has been arrested in Finland on such
"Asia is a hotbed of betting and match-fixing and
Singapore is among the least corrupt countries on the planet so there may be no
better place to set up this initiative than in Singapore," Interpol
secretary-general Ronald Noble told a Zurich conference last week.
Eaton was with Interpol for more than a decade, and was
manager of operations before joining Fifa in April last year.
Bringing with him an extensive police background that has
allowed Fifa to tap into Interpol information more readily than it could before
his appointment, Eaton said the creation of the unit is timely enough.
"I don't believe Fifa has been aware of the magnitude
of the problem," he said.
But while the unit will serve the purposes of
"prevention, training and protection" initially, he does not rule out
the possibility of a more investigative role going forward.
"This may be a future opportunity, a further
development in that direction after this first phase of the partnership is
firmed and solidified."