ZURICH: Match-fixing is a ‘disease which could kill football, according to FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke.

He was talking to CNN in the wake of confirmation by the world federation of life bans to 41 South Korean players who had been involved in ‘arranging’ results.

This followed December’s suspension of the president of the South African Football Association ahead of an investigation into match-fixing in the country prior to it hosting the 2010 World Cup.

Valcke said: “I really think that it’s a disease and a threat which is on a worldwide basis.

“It’s not just about Africa. It is in Asia, it is in Europe, it is in North America, it is in Canada, it is in South America. It’s all around the world that this match-fixing, or match manipulation, is active.”

UEFA president Michel Platini has recently branded match-fixing as the greatest threat to the future of football in an interview with a French radio station.

Platini had warned that football is “dead” if the outcome of matches is prearranged, a statement Valcke echoed by saying the appeal of the sport lies in its unpredictability.

Whistleblower appeal

“If you know the end of the party, of the game, then definitely football is dead,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the game, you never know who will be the winner.

“It can be the team you think would win, but it can also be the other team, the opponent who can make it because it’s just played on one goal. So that’s why we have to protect football as much as we can.”

Valcke warned that the fight against the highly lucrative match-fixing business could take 10 years, and urged anyone with knowledge of such activity to come forward.

In May 2011 FIFA announced it would donate over $25m to Interpol over 10 years — the largest grant the world police organization had ever received from a private body — with a view to tackling corruption.

Valcke said: “When I was in Rome [last week] where we had this meeting with Interpol and 50 of the 53 of the European associations, I heard that the business of match manipulation per year is around 100bn. I don’t know it is in Euros or U.S. (dollars), but whatever, it is 100 billion, it’s an amazing figure.

“I think it will be a very, very long fight and it will be very difficult to win. And if we want to win, it is all together. Also I told some media in South Africa, if you are aware of anything you should tell us. We have to fight all.

‘Another fight’

“All the people who love football should be together towards match-fixing. But it will not be a fight of one day as we have other fights which have been there already. And match manipulation will be another fight that will be there for the next decade.”

Former Interpol director Ralf Mutschke replaced FIFA’s former head of security Chris Eaton – who joined a Qatar-based sports security consultancy ICSS – in June last year, tasked with tackling the scourge of match-fixing.

In the past FIFA’s own governance has been questioned. Corruption watchdog Transparency International cut its ties with the body in 2011 when two of its recommendations – that the investigator charged with overseeing FIFA would be compromised if he were paid by FIFA and that he should be allowed to investigate old corruption scandals – were dropped.

Valcke added: “There is no limit in what we have to do in order to make sure we can eradicate match-fixing one day in our game, or at least to make sure that match-fixing is not a threat anymore to our game.”

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