No quick fix to fighting sports corruption, INTERPOL chief tells FIFA Congress

25 May 2012

BUDAPEST, Hungary – The increased involvement of transnational organized crime in illegal gambling and match fixing has made corruption in sport a global threat affecting the security of people worldwide, the INTERPOL chief told officials at the 2012 FIFA Congress.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told the meeting of world football nations that corruption in sport today affects more than just the reputations and livelihoods of sport professionals and associations.

“As a result of transnational organized crime’s global reach, of the huge profits associated with illegal gambling, of the vulnerability of players and of the internet, which has made gambling on matches anywhere in the world extremely easy and accessible, we are seeing more and more cases of match fixing and suspicious results,” said Secretary General Noble.

“INTERPOL and FIFA recognized the growing scale of the problem and it was apparent that if both organizations acted quickly and forcefully, we could reassure football players and fans that this serious problem could be dealt with in a comprehensive and long-term manner,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said: "We are very grateful to INTERPOL and to its Secretary General Ronald K. Noble for the tremendous support they have given us so far, and we are very pleased with the results of our partnership, especially in the fight against match-fixing.

“We know that this is a crucial fight in which we need to help each other to be successful and to keep our sport clean. We look forward to continue working closely together to achieve this goal,” added Mr Blatter.

A guest of honour at the FIFA Congress, Italian footballer Simone Farina, who in November 2011 reported an attempted match fixing bribe to police, was recognized by INTERPOL earlier this year with the presentation of a Commemorative Medal. As part of INTERPOL’s ‘Fund for a Safer World,’ the medal acknowledges those who make an effective contribution to crime prevention and law enforcement at the local, national and global level.

“Corruption in sport is a very complex problem for which there is no quick fix. This is why it is crucial that in addition to the ongoing enforcement efforts, we continue to intensify our efforts towards prevention,” said Mr Noble pointing to the results achieved following the INTERPOL-FIFA partnership one year ago.

Key developments include the creation of a dedicated INTERPOL unit tasked with engaging law enforcement worldwide and developing information platforms to ensure that the INTERPOL-FIFA Training, Education and Prevention Initiative reaches the largest possible audience.

The Integrity in Sports unit has brought together specialists from law enforcement, sports and the betting industry for expert meetings and held the pilot national training workshop for police, players, referees, regulators and academic institutions.

By the end of 2012, training will be provided to referees and assistants for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil in addition to the launch of an online learning programme designed as a preventative tool for players who may be targeted by criminals seeking to manipulate the outcome of a game.

Throughout Euro 2012, in addition to the deployment of an INTERPOL Major Events Support Team to Poland and Ukraine, INTERPOL will also be running operation SOGA – short for soccer gambling – targeting illegal football gambling across Southeast Asia.

The three previous SOGA operations conducted in the region during major soccer tournaments have resulted in nearly 7,000 arrests, the seizure of more than 26 million US dollars in cash and the closure of illegal gambling dens which handled more than two billion dollars’ worth of bets.