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China Daily Website

AFC chief calls 'fixing' a soccer pandemic

Updated: 2013-02-21 07:43
By Reuters in Kuala Lumpur ( China Daily)

The "cancer" of soccer match-fixing is a pandemic that is too big for one organization to tackle, AFC acting president Zhang Jilong warned as the regional body and Interpol kicked off a two-day seminar on the issue on Wednesday.

World soccer was rocked this month when European police said a Singapore-based syndicate had directed match-fixing for at least 380 soccer games in Europe alone, with documented profits of eight million euros ($11 million) believed to be just the tip of the iceberg.

While the news shocked many in Europe, the announcements were met with little surprise in Asia, which has long struggled to tackle the problem with high-profile cases in South Korea, China and Malaysia in recent years.

Zhang, who served as the chairman of the AFC's Finance Committee during the final years of Mohammed Bin Hammam's reign as AFC president before the Qatari was banned for life by FIFA for corruption and bribery, said cooperation was required to tackle the problem.

AFC chief calls 'fixing' a soccer pandemic

"We are ready to work hand in hand to eradicate this cancer from the game," Zhang said in Kuala Lumpur in his opening speech.

"Match-fixing is too complicated and widespread for one organization to fight it alone.

"No continent is now left untouched by this disease. Match-fixing is now a pandemic in world football."

The lack of arrests in the global match-fixing case, which has been reported on in Singapore newspapers for years, has led to criticism, but FIFA director of security Ralf Mutshke said the issue was above its jurisdiction.

"This is a question basically for law enforcement on one side and a problem which politicians have to solve," he said.

"This is a criminal case. It has nothing to do with our (FIFA's) responsibility."

Zhang has been in temporary charge of the AFC since June 2011 and is expected to run for the full presidency post during the elections in May.

The experienced Chinese administrator said no stone was being left unturned in battling the crisis affecting the world's most popular sport.

(China Daily 02/21/2013 page22)

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