SINGAPORE: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has set up a task force to help combat match-fixing in the continent, the sport’s regional governing body said yesterday.
The announcement came a day after an INTERPOL-led conference into result rigging closed in Kuala Lumpur.
The task force would collaborate with all stakeholders and educate member associations on ways to combat the practice and introduce mechanisms to fight it, AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay said in a statement.
“By setting up this task force, we would like to coordinate the education, training and implementation of measures through one platform,” he said.
Earlier this month, European anti-crime agency Europol said hundreds of soccer matches were fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore.
It also identified about 680 suspicious matches, including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and for Europe’s Champions League.
Tan Seet Eng, a Singaporean also known as Dan Tan, has been accused of heading an organization to fix soccer matches worldwide and Italian police have issued an arrest warrant for him.
Italian police arrested a fugitive associate of the alleged match-fixing kingpin on Thursday after the 31-year-old Slovenian, a former player, flew in from Singapore to hand himself over to authorities.
Singapore says Tan is not a wanted man in the city-state but it is working with European authorities looking into the syndicate.
Singapore police said on Thursday a team of four officers would be sent to INTERPOL within the next two weeks to assist in the investigations.
Asia has long struggled with match-fixing with high-profile cases in South Korea, China and Malaysia in recent years.
FIFA slapped worldwide lifetime bans on 41 South Korean players last month following a match-fixing scandal in the country’s K-League.
China had handed life bans to 33 players and officials while Singapore had initiated polygraph tests for players, Soosay said.
The AFC official hailed the steps taken by the football associations of China, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia and urged other members to follow their examples.
“Some of our member associations, who have been facing this threat for long, have come up with novel ideas to combat match-fixing and have succeeded in controlling the threat,” he said.
“I would like all our MAs (member associations) to follow the examples of these MAs and join this fight to strengthen the fair play in this game,” Soosay added.