FIFA urges government support against match-fixing

Updated 20 February 2013
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FIFA urges government support against match-fixing

KUALA LUMPUR: FIFA’s head of security warned yesterday that the fight against match-fixing will ultimately flounder without the full support of governments across the world.
Ralf Mutschke hopes a Singaporean businessman accused of heading a crime syndicate that made millions by betting on rigged Italian games will be brought to face the courts with the help of local government authorities.
Speaking at a conference in Malaysia co-hosted by Interpol and the Asian Football Confederation, Mutschke said referees and players are being banned for life for corruption but the masterminds walk free because of legislative weaknesses.
“We have to bring in the governments because they have to change legislations and laws, because a lot of countries do not have proper laws fighting match manipulation and corruption,” he said. “Talking is nice, but we have to come to a conclusion that it’s time now for action.”
The European Union’s police agency reported earlier this month that organized crime gangs have fixed or tried to fix hundreds of football matches around the world in recent years.
Europol said its 18-month review found 380 suspicious matches in Europe and another 300 questionable games outside the continent, mainly in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. It also found evidence that Asian crime groups were involved in some of the match-fixing.
Mutschke pointed to the case of Singaporean businessman Tan Seet Eng — known as Dan Tan — for whom Italian authorities have issued an arrest warrant but have been unable to take into custody because it cannot be served on him while he is in Asia.
He said FIFA would not sanction Singapore’s football association, which is not responsible for arresting Tan.
Tan “needs to be brought to justice ... but it’s out of our jurisdiction,” Mutschke said. “Why should FIFA punish the entire Singapore if it’s a political problem? The problem has to be solved on a political level.”
Singapore police have said the city state’s authorities are reviewing information submitted by the Italians before deciding what to do.
Tan’s former associate, Wilson Raj Perumal, has alleged to Italian investigators that Tan has placed syndicate wagers on fixed games using Asia-based online betting sites via intermediaries in China.
Mutschke said FIFA is working to ensure that betting syndicates don’t infiltrate the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and is providing special training for referees and teams and setting up a round-the-clock hotline to report any irregularities.
“Up to now, to the best of my knowledge, there was no World Cup infiltrated by organized crime,” he said.
Zhang Jilong, the acting president of the Asian Football Confederation, acknowledged that Asia has emerged as the financial hub for match-fixing syndicates and must make more effort to fight the scourge.
Brendan Schwab, the Asian head of the International Federation of Professional Footballers, warned that targeting players and officials without going after criminal syndicates would be ineffective.
“This will just give more ammunition and more confidence to the fixers who realize that the sport is not serious in cooperating with international police to target the fixers,” Schwab said on the sidelines of the conference.
“We know that the fixers treat the players as disposable, so if (the players) are sanctioned, they’ll just go with another group (of players). Our strong message is to tackle it at its source. To tackle organized crime and, within the sport, do whatever we can to make the players more resilient.”
He said problems were rife in Indonesia where some foreign players have been detained after their clubs failed to fulfill their work permit responsibilities. In December, Paraguyan striker Diego Mendieta who died of a suspected viral infection in an Indonesian hospital was owed months of wages, Schwab said.
“In Indonesia, it’s at a tragic level. We have said to the Asian Football Confederation that we can’t have players suffer like this. If we are serious about integrity, we have to be serious about the rights of the players,” Schwab said, adding that players also need to be educated about not accepting bribes.
The officials’ comments came as Football Association of Thailand president and longtime FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi prepares to meet with officials from FIFA and Interpol at Kuala Lumpur on Thursday about allegations of match-fixing during last year’s Thai FA Cup final.
Earlier this week, the Chinese Football Association stripped Shanghai Shenhua of its 2003 league title and fined the club $160,000 as part of sanctions aimed at stamping out fixing in the Chinese Super League.


Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

Updated 20 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

  • Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
  • Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru

Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.

Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)