- Worldwide soccer players' union FIFPro launches project to combat match-fixing
- Players will be able to report any illegal approaches or behavior via an online tool
- FIFPro also to raise awareness of the problems among players, coaches and referees
- Match fixing cases in South Africa and Italy have emerged recently
In the past week sanctions have been handed down in both South Africa and Italy in relation to a growing trend that is fast becoming a stain on soccer's integrity -- match-fixing.
But FIFPro, the worldwide players' union, are preparing a project to tackle fixing, that will include an education program and an online tool for their members to report illegal approaches.
Match-fixing has proved a particular problem for Italian football in recent years.
Napoli were hit with a two-point penalty that dropped them from third to fifth in Serie A as part of an ongoing investigation, though they vehemently deny any wrongdoing. Defender Paolo Cannavaro is appealing his six-month ban for failing to report an illegal approach.
Juventus coach Antonio Conte recently returned from a 10-match touchline ban imposed for failing to report match-fixing while coach at Siena.
In 2006, Juve were stripped of two league titles and relegated to the third division of Italian football -- before later being reinstated in the second tier -- for their part in the "Calciopoli" scandal.
Elsewhere, the president of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and four other officials were suspended this week as part of an investigation into match-fixing ahead of the country hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
It is alleged four friendly games were prearranged for the benefit of convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his Football 4U organization.
FIFPro have European Union funding behind their 'Don't Fix It' project and will be working closely with Birkbeck University and European soccer's governing body UEFA.
The initiative will be launched in nine countries: England, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Scotland and Slovenia.
"In the past few years, the football world has realized that match fixing is one of the biggest threats to the game, maybe even its biggest threat," FIFPro said in a stament on their website.
"It is not solely a problem of individual countries, as recent reports and incidents have proven that match fixing is widespread in numerous nations on all continents: from Finland to Zimbabwe, from Malaysia to Italy.
"In FIFPro's opinion, one of the ways to reduce the incidence of match fixing and the potential for match fixing in football is education of the players: the campaigns need to be taken into the dressing rooms of the clubs."
Once their online reporting method is up and running FIFPro estimate a total of 12,000 players and 20,000 people associated with the game will be able to disclose any bullying, intimidation, harassment, and inappropriate approaches.