FIFA sets up matchfixing hotline

JOHANNESBURG  - FIFA has stepped up its fight against matchfixing ahead of next month's World Cup, including setting up a confidential hotline for players, coaches and referees to report any attempts to bribe them.

Football's governing body said on Friday all matches at the showpiece tournament in South Africa would be monitored by Early Warning System (EWS), a company formed to watch for matchfixing, while more than 400 bookmakers had agreed to report any irregular betting.

"FIFA takes very seriously the fight against irregularities in the football-betting market and potential matchfixing situations in football," it said in a statement.

"Although it is impossible to guarantee that any competition is safe from attempts to externally influence matches, FIFA is doing everything in its hands to ensure that the risk is minimised."

Among the measures to be taken were the creation of a telephone hotline for people who could be approached, such as players, coaches, referees and FIFA officials.

Police in Germany, Britain, Austria and Switzerland staged simultaneous raids to crack down on a suspected match-fixing ring earlier this year, leading to arrests in Germany and Switzerland and for several players to be banned.

The ring was reported to have tried to fix around 200 matches across the continent.

David Triesman, the former chairman of the English Football Association, quit as head of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup over secretly-recorded comments he made suggesting rival bidders Spain and Russia were conspiring to bribe referees at the South Africa tournament, which starts on June 11.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said last week he did not believe Triesman's allegation.

FIFA said on Friday EWS would monitor and analyse the sports betting market on the internet and would remain in contact with several investigation units, including Interpol.

All players and other participants in the tournament were bound by a FIFA code of ethics and disciplinary code and would be given information beforehand about betting, match-fixing and the monitoring system, it said.

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