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Football | International

Chris Eaton © Reuters Images

Fifa chief plays down fixing fears



Fifa's former head of security Chris Eaton insists there is no credible evidence of match-fixing in England, but he warned the sport's authorities to remain on red alert.

A report released earlier this week by enforcement agency Europol said 380 matches were under investigation for match-fixing, including the 2009 Champions League clash between Liverpool and Hungarian club Debrecen at Anfield.

There has never been any suspicion of wrongdoing by anyone at Liverpool, who won the match 1-0, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger this week claimed the whole situation must act as a wake-up call to the English game.

Eaton, who left his post at Fifa in March 2012 and is now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sports Security in Qatar, believes the Premier League, as the world's most watched football competition and biggest gambling market, remains a potential target.

"You hear a lot of allegations, but I have never had any credible evidence about fixing in the English Premier League or the Champions League - that does not mean you should not be vigilant," Eaton told the BBC's Sportsweek programme on Sunday.

"You must be vigilant, this is the most watched league in the world, the most gambled league in the world and therefore the one who has to be the most vigilant."

Eaton revealed there are many different ways matches could be rigged, with the "five star fixes" those involving players from both teams as well as officials.

"There is no standard form, with a lot of different styles engaged by match-fixers over the years, including ghost games which did not exist in reality, but were called by the monitoring agencies," he said.

"There was the fake Togo team in Africa. Mostly it is about compromising players or officials, referees.

"Organised crime take an interest in this, which is not because of the growth of match-fixing, but because of the great growth of gambling in south-east Asia, particularly on European football, we also saw this with the Mafia being involved in match-fixing in Italy. The betting fraud is the main purpose."

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