KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: The failure of a majority of countries to face up to the mafia threat behind matchfixing emerged today as a major concern for Michel Platini.
The president of UEFA registered his concern at a lack of action during his opening address to the European federation’s annual congress at the Grosvenor Hotel on London’s Park Lane today.
Platini was speaking less than 24 hours after the latest revelations about match manipulation in Europe with arrest warrants having been issued in Hungary for 45 fixers, players and officials.
The former France captain and manager said football was addressing the issue but governments and politicians were not.
He said: “We are protecting our sport from this scourge with all the means at our disposal, but, unfortunately, that is sometimes not enough.
“Our match monitoring system and our network of integrity officers, who are present in every country, are of course useful – indispensable even – in this respect, but it is not enough.
“We are not dealing with petty criminals who are looking to make ends meet. We are, in some instances, dealing with mafia-type organisations that are using certain matches to launder money, tarnishing our sport in the process.”
Platini cautioned that “just one fixed match is one match too many, as it strikes at the soul of our sport.”
He praised the federations and officials who even placed themselves sometimes in personal danger in confronting the corruption threat.
But they were being let down by politicians.
Platini added: “Six years ago now – in response to this problem of betting, corruption and match-fixing, as well as the problems of hooliganism and doping – I called for the establishment of a European sports police force.
“There has been no response to those calls so far.
“Given the absence of any reaction and the lack of awareness on the part of politicians, I renew that call today.
“If this call again falls on deaf ears, I ask that each country, at the very least, adopts specific provisions of national legislation addressing the issue of match-fixing, in order to finally have the legal tools necessary to rigorously punish these cheats.”
Platini regretted that only “10 of our 53 countries have provisions of this kind in their legislative arsenal. That’s not many, and not enough.”
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