FIFA has pledged to protect witnesses who report match-fixing
plots by organized crime syndicates, as soccer’s world governing
body launched a yearlong campaign against corruption on
Security director Chris Eaton said FIFA will look after
whistleblowers who contact a hotline which opens next month.
”Players are living in fear in many countries,” Eaton said.
”If they come forward and have valuable information … they will
be protected. I have that commitment from FIFA.”
Eaton said FIFA has ”anecdotal evidence” that players have
been killed by crime syndicates to defend their multi-billion
dollar business, and is monitoring worldwide reports of
intimidation to cooperate with betting scams.
The former Interpol official says FIFA’s latest campaign against
match-fixing depends on players, referees and administrators
reporting attempts to corrupt them.
A hotline and website, run independently of FIFA, will offer
whistleblowers help in 180 languages and operate from Feb. 1 until
the end of the year.
FIFA will offer a plea-bargaining amnesty for just three months
to those reporting their own involvement in fixing scams.
”We are providing them with someone to go to,” Eaton said.
FIFA has been encouraged by the example of Italian defender
Simone Farina, who informed law enforcement authorities that he was
offered $255,000 last year to help fix a second-tier match
involving his club Gubbio.
”He resisted and rejected a corrupting offer, but more
importantly he reported it,” Eaton said.
Farina was appointed a FIFA fair play ambassador by its
president Sepp Blatter on Monday.
A former detective from Australia, Eaton has led FIFA’s response
after a series of scandals exposed the extent of match-fixing
involving national leagues and international exhibition matches
handled by corrupt referees.
Eaton and his team of investigators based in London, Colombia,
Malaysia and Jordan traveled to 60 countries last year following a
trail of cases linked to southeast Asian fixers and illegal
FIFA estimates that fixers make between $5 billion and $15
billion in profit each year from manipulating matches across all
sports, which attract $500 billion in wagers with legal and
”The money generated is enormous, truly staggering,” said
Eaton, warning that crime syndicates use their profits to increase
their power and influence.
FIFA got its breakthrough against match-fixing last February
when Singaporean businessman Wilson Perumal was arrested in
Finland, where he fixed league matches.
A double-header of international exhibitions played in neutral
Antalya, Turkey, exposed a model of fixing where corrupt referees
awarded dubious penalties to fulfill bets on how many goals would
Perumal got a two-year prison sentence, and evidence gathered in
the case led Eaton’s team toward his network of contacts across
Eaton released redacted documents from the Perumal dossier
Tuesday, including email exchanges with senior soccer
Perumal promised to pay one unidentified official $100,000, with
a promise of $500,000 from future matches.
In emails, Perumal questioned how FIFA could stop
”If the parent body is corrupt, how is it going to eradicate
corruption in football?” he wrote in documents released by
FIFA’s campaign coincides with hundreds of qualifying matches
being played this year for its showpiece event, the 2014 World
Eaton and his team investigated reports of fixed matches at the
2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and will monitor the 16-nation African Cup
of Nations, which kicks off in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on Jan.
”We have no information about that tournament at the moment,
but we are looking at it,” he said.
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