FIFA targets informers inside organized crime gangs

by Washington Post

FIFA is working with informers inside organized crime syndicates to help protect the World Cup from match-fixing and betting plots.

FIFA is working with informers inside organized crime syndicates to help protect the World Cup from match-fixing and betting plots.

FIFA’s security director Chris Eaton outlined a strategy on Thursday for soccer’s world governing body to attempt to stop the fixing of international matches that results in millions of dollars in profit.

“What we’re doing now is developing sources both in criminal organizations and football that will advise us,” Eaton said in an interview published by FIFA’s website.

“We are creating a hostile environment for match-fixers to make them realize we will expose them, name them, and make them subject to investigation somewhere in the world.”

FIFA’s pro-active plan to get information from inside crime syndicates is a direct response to its 208 national member bodies being targeted to help fixing plots.

“The infiltration of serious criminals into our associations and football generally is the most pressing issue,” Eaton said.

FIFA believes crime gangs have received inside help from soccer officials to organize international matches and select corrupt referees.

FIFA will open a whistleblowers’ hotline next month offering rewards and amnesties if players, referees and officials provide detailed information about their involvement or offers to help fix matches.

The three-month campaign comes before qualifying for the 2014 World Cup intensifies this year.

Eaton said he believes FIFA’s showpiece tournament is most at risk during the 832 scheduled qualifiers involving teams that are unlikely to reach the finals in Brazil.

His team to combat fixing conspiracies includes specialist investigators in Kuala Lumpur, Colombia and Jordan, with a global coordinator based in Britain.

“This is about international — transcontinental in fact — organized crime,” Eaton said. “We see the footprints of Singaporean criminals throughout Europe, Africa and Central America.”

The Australian former detective acknowledged that his “small department” will rely on “detailed partnerships” with law enforcement agencies worldwide.

However, Eaton dismissed suggestions that soccer and world sports would benefit from creating an anti-corruption body similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“I don’t believe we need a WADA. WADA is designed to deal with cheats who ‘cheat to win.’ We’re talking about criminals who ‘corrupt to lose,’” he said.

“What we need is an independent investigative ability across sports. You certainly need a match-fixing code.”

Eaton said the ethics of any sport were best controlled among those who played and ran it — “in the hearts and minds of all participants.”

To achieve that, FIFA has invested $25.6 million in a 10-year project with Interpol, the global police liaison agency, to operate a soccer education center in Singapore.

Eaton said the center would open in 2012, and begin working at its first FIFA tournament when the Women’s Under-20 World Cup is played, likely in Japan.

“They will talk to players and officials. It’s about football waking up and resisting — it’s time for football to fight back against match-fixers,” he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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