Expert calls for arrest of well-known "fixer"

Assertions by authorities that tackling match-fixing in football will be a long and complex process have been rejected by a leading expert on corruption in the game, who says the arrest of one person will make a difference.

Declan Hill, an author and investigative journalist who believes gangs avoid detection by fixing the betting exchanges as well as matches, has called on authorities to arrest Dan Tan, who he says is an alleged major "fixer" in Singapore.

On Monday, European anti-crime agency Europol said about 680 suspicious matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championship, and the Champions League for top European club sides, have been identified in an inquiry by European police forces and national prosecutors.

"There's an effort to say that taking on match-fixing is a complicated, sophisticated activity that involves taking on dark, mysterious figures," Hill, the author of The Fix: Soccer and Organised Crime, told Reuters in an interview.

"We know the fixer. There's one guy who helped fix games in over 50 countries in the world. This is Finnish police, the Hungarian police, the German police, the Italian police saying this.

"This is over 800 pages of the Cremona public prosecutor's report [from the most recent Italian match-fixing scandal] that not only names the man and gives his birth date, it has his phone records, it talks about where he was, it talks about everything."

Singapore police said in a statement: "The authorities in Singapore are assisting the Italian authorities through Interpol in their investigations into an international match-fixing syndicate that purportedly involves a Singaporean, Dan Tan Seet Eng, and have provided information requested by the National Central Bureau (NCB) Rome.

"So far, Dan Tan Seet Eng has not been arrested or charged with any offence in Singapore.

"We wish to reiterate that Singapore takes a strong stance against match-fixing and is committed to working with international enforcement agencies to bring down trans national criminal syndicates, including those that involve the acts of Singaporeans overseas, and protect the integrity of the sport."

Dan Tan could not be reached for comment.

Hill appeared last month at a match-fixing conference in Rome attended by international football and police representatives as well as gambling experts.

"You have the biggest sporting organisations in the world and some of the biggest police agencies across Europe saying this is the man who has fixed games in dozens of different countries, including Singapore. You'd think that would be enough," Hill said.

"Next year FIFA is opening up a $20 million anti-match-fixing education centre [in Interpol's new Global Complex] in Singapore. I'm boggled that anyone would think about doing that in a jurisdiction... [with possibly the] central international match fixer of our time."

"NOBODY NOTICES"

European football's governing body UEFA says its early warning system to combat match-fixing shows only 0.7 percent of the 32,000 matches monitored per year are fixed and they are almost exclusively lower-division matches.

However, Hill argues the systems used by FIFA and UEFA to track suspicious activity on the betting markets would not detect scams by Asian gangs that operate across Europe