World Cup not exempt from match-fixing attempts

Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:21am EST
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - The World Cup finals are not exempt from attempts to rig games and FIFA is leaving nothing to chance, the head of security at soccer's governing body told Reuters in an interview.

Ralf Mutschke said FIFA could even postpone a match if there were indications it had been targeted for manipulation by criminal gangs, although he stressed such a measure would be a last resort.

He added that there was a thin line between gambling-induced match-fixing and the scenario of teams playing to a cosy draw at the end of the group stage so that both qualified for the next round, something which he generally considered to be tactical and outside his main area of responsibility.

Match-fixing has become a huge concern for soccer's authorities in the last few years as illegal gambling rings pay players, referees or officials to manipulate games and make enormous amounts of money by betting on the outcome.

Often, manipulators prefer to act away from the limelight, concentrating on low-profile international friendlies and national leagues in smaller countries.

However, Mutschke, a former high-ranking officer in the German federal police with more than 30 years' experience of crime-fighting, said that so much money was gambled on World Cup matches that criminals were bound to be tempted.

"You have big betting on the World Cup matches, you have a lot of money involved in that betting, therefore we have to consider that fixers would like to manipulate World Cup matches, therefore we have to counter that," Mutschke told Reuters.

"It would be stupid not to take into consideration that World Cup matches could be targets of fixers. We have to prepare ourselves and of course not believe that the World Cup is exempt," he added.   Continued...