Spot-fixing not widespread, FA says

Image caption,
Mrs Miller said football and other sports must remain vigilant

Senior figures from five major sports have met ministers to discuss efforts to tackle corruption amid allegations of fixing in British football.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller called sports administrators to the meeting following the arrest of six people, including an ex-Premier League player.

FA boss Alex Horne said football was "not complacent" and would do "all it could" to protect its integrity.

But he suggested spot-fixing was not a "wide-scale" problem at the moment.

Spot fixing is where a player agrees to influence a specific element of a match - for example by getting a yellow card - rather than trying to fix the final score.

Tuesday's meeting followed the arrest of Blackburn Rovers player DJ Campbell and five others on Sunday over such allegations.

Sporting product

Executives from the governing bodies of football, cricket, horse racing, rugby union and rugby league attended the meeting at Mrs Miller's office, along with representatives from the Premier League, the Football League, the Gambling Commission and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

Speaking afterwards, Mr Horne said while Britain was "very proud of our sporting product", governing bodies were "not complacent" about the challenges they faced to protect the reputation of their sports.

"We all want to do all we can to protect the integrity of that sport," he said.

"There is a lot we can learn from other sports. Some of the education programmes that cricket have put in place are very far advanced and the integrity unit that the BHA have put in place is very far advanced.

"There is a lot of learning there open to all sports."

He suggested the "general consensus" among administrators was that spot-fixing was "not a big issue" at the moment.

"The intelligence that we have is that this isn't a wide-scale issue at the moment but we don't want to be complacent."

'Deeply concerned'

The BBC's sports news correspondent Richard Conway said the meeting focused on the systems each sport has in place to ensure fair play, rather than individual cases.

Mrs Miller said she believed "effective procedures" were already in place for reporting alleged criminality and when "action needs to be taken it can be [taken]".

She added: "We want to make sure we continually look at how reporting is undertaken and that it moves with the times."

A former head of security at Fifa, Chris Eaton, has warned that fixing is a greater threat to the integrity of sport than doping, describing it as "insidious and deep-rooted".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he called for governments around the world to back a new global taskforce through which the sports authorities, betting organisations, regulators and the police could co-ordinate their response.

According to reports in the Guardian, the Football Association would consider signing up to an anti-corruption organisation capable of acting quickly in response to allegations of match and spot-fixing in different sports.

Rick Parry, the former Premier League chief executive who led a government inquiry into the integrity of sports betting in 2009, told the newspaper that it would make sense for different sports to pool their resources and knowhow.

"The advantage of a pan-sports unit is it allows intelligence to be shared across the board," he said.

He suggested the body could be paid for through the extra tax revenues generated by bringing bookmakers' offshore operations back to the UK - currently being discussed as part of the government's gambling bill.

Punching an opponent

Mr Campbell, Oldham Athletic winger Cristian Montano and four others - who have not been named - were arrested after the Sun on Sunday passed information to the National Crime Agency (NCA). They have all been bailed.

Image caption,
DJ Campbell has been arrested and bailed in relation to alleged match-fixing

Police are expected to review a yellow card Mr Campbell received for a late tackle in Blackburn's game against Ipswich last week.

The arrests came after former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje allegedly told an undercover Sun on Sunday reporter he could arrange yellow and red cards in exchange for cash.

In a separate investigation, the NCA is examining claims that an international betting syndicate was involved in match-fixing.

Four people, including two Conference South players, have been charged with fixing-related offences as part of that investigation.

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