ZURICH, Jan 16: FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke warned Wednesday that football has “a long way to go” to defeat match-fixing by organized crime gangs.    

FIFA was involved in 20 match-fixing investigations worldwide last year, and Mutschke told reporters the problem could get worse because 100 national leagues are vulnerable to corruption when crime syndicates can so easily bet on matches online.

“FIFA is not going to eradicate match-fixing or corruption,” Mutschke said at a briefing ahead of a two-day European conference on fighting match-fixing which opens on Thursday in Italy.

The German former Interpol official accepted that “realistically, there is no way” FIFA can tackle organised crime, which has targeted betting on football as a profitable scam with low risks of being caught, prosecuted or sentenced heavily.

Mutschke said FIFA needs more help from national law enforcement agencies worldwide, and has asked Interpol to persuade its members to help protect the world’s most popular sport.

Mutschke said the “the key to success” of his long-term strategy, shaped since joining FIFA last June, is raising integrity levels by educating referees, players and officials to resist approaches by fixers.—AP

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