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FIFA official Jerome Valcke: 'Match-fixing is a soccer disease'

From Pedro Pinto and Tom McGowan, CNN
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA's Jerome Valcke says match-fixing is a disease which could kill football
  • Valcke spoke to CNN after UEFA president Michael Platini warned of match-fixing's threat
  • 41 South Korean players were handed lifetime bans by FIFA for match-fixing offenses
  • South African football chief suspended pending a match-fixing investigation

(CNN) -- Match-fixing is a "disease" that could kill football, a top official at the sport's world governing body told CNN on Wednesday.

Earlier this month FIFA handed lifetime bans to 41 South Korean players who had been involved in prearranging matches.

It followed December's suspension of the president of the South African Football Association ahead of an investigation into match-fixing in the country prior to it hosting the 2010 World Cup.

"I really think that it's a disease and a threat which is on a worldwide basis," FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke told CNN in an exclusive interview.

The Secret Footballer says in the early days of in-play betting players used to make money by manipulating elements of the match such as who would win the first throw in. The Secret Footballer says in the early days of in-play betting players used to make money by manipulating elements of the match such as who would win the first throw in.
In-play betting
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter's 2011 remarks on racism in football -- that on-pitch abuse can be solved with a handshake -- were just one of a series of controversial quotes to be attributed to the head of world soccer. FIFA president Sepp Blatter's 2011 remarks on racism in football -- that on-pitch abuse can be solved with a handshake -- were just one of a series of controversial quotes to be attributed to the head of world soccer.
A controversial leader
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"It's not just about Africa. It is in Asia, it is in Europe, it is in North America, it is in Canada, it is in South America. It's all around the world that this match-fixing, or match manipulation, is active."

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Valcke was speaking after European football chief Michel Platini branded match-fixing the greatest threat to the future of football in an interview with a French radio station.

Platini had warned that football is "dead" if the outcome of matches is prearranged, a statement Valcke echoed by saying the appeal of the sport lies in its unpredictability.

"If you know the end of the party, of the game, then definitely football is dead," he said. "That's the beauty of the game, you never know who will be the winner.

"It can be the team you think would win, but it can also be the other team, the opponent who can make it because it's just played on one goal. So that's why we have to protect football as much as we can."

Valcke warned that the fight against the highly lucrative match-fixing business could take 10 years, and urged anyone with knowledge of such activity to come forward.

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It is now nearly a year since Chelsea lost to QPR 1-0 in an English Premier League game at Loftus Road. During the game it was alleged QPR defender Anton Ferdinand swore at John Terry and made reference to the Chelsea captain's reported affair with the ex-partner of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is then said to have described Ferdinand as a "f***ing black c***". It is now nearly a year since Chelsea lost to QPR 1-0 in an English Premier League game at Loftus Road. During the game it was alleged QPR defender Anton Ferdinand swore at John Terry and made reference to the Chelsea captain's reported affair with the ex-partner of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is then said to have described Ferdinand as a "f***ing black c***".
Where it all began
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In May 2011 FIFA announced it would donate over $25 million to Interpol over 10 years -- the largest grant the world police organization had ever received from a private body -- with a view to tackling corruption.

"When I was in Rome where we had this meeting with Interpol and 50 of the 53 of the European associations, I heard that the business of match manipulation per year is around 100 billion. I don't know it is in Euros or U.S. (dollars), but whatever, it is 100 billion, it's an amazing figure," Valcke said.

"I think it will be a very, very long fight and it will be very difficult to win. And if we want to win, it is all together. Also I told some media in South Africa, if you are aware of anything you should tell us. We have to fight all.

"All the people who love football should be together towards match-fixing. But it will not be a fight of one day as we have other fights which have been there already. And match manipulation will be another fight that will be there for the next decade."

Former Interpol director Ralf Mutschke replaced FIFA's former head of security Chris Eaton -- who joined a Qatar-based sports security consultancy -- in June last year, tasked with tackling the scourge of match-fixing.

In the past FIFA's own governance has been questioned. Corruption watchdog Transparency International cut its ties with the body in 2011 when two of its recommendations -- that the investigator charged with overseeing FIFA would be compromised if he was paid by FIFA and that he should be allowed to investigate old corruption scandals -- were dropped.

"There is no limit in what we have to do in order to make sure we can eradicate match-fixing one day in our game," Valcke said. "Or at least to make sure that match-fixing is not a threat anymore to our game."

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