Match-fixing revenues comparable to global firms - Interpol

image captionInterpol and football's governing bodies pledged to take a joint stand against match-fixing

Match-fixing in football today generates "hundreds of billions of euros per year" around the world, the head of Interpol has warned.

Secretary General Ronald Noble said revenues from illegal betting were "on the same scale as a Coca-Cola company".

He was speaking in Rome at a conference with the world football governing body Fifa on how to deal with the issue.

Both sides talked about the need for education targeting those vulnerable to the pressure of the fixers.

'Many-headed dragon'

Mr Noble said that criminal networks were not only benefiting from the profits of match-fixing, but were also able to launder their illegally earned cash.

He said that no country was immune, citing Canada as an example.

Although football in the North American nation was a very minor sport run by volunteers, even there players were often approached to fix games, he said.

"Match-fixing is clearly a many-headed dragon that we must slay with a co-ordinated national and international effort."

Echoing Mr Noble's words, Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke stressed that the only way to tackle the issue was from the bottom up, starting with youngsters.

"There is no chance we will change the system without education," Mr Valcke said.

This is the first time that Interpol and Fifa have combined to organise a forum on the menace of match-fixing, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome reports.

Some 200 delegates from 50 countries are attending the two-day conference.

Last year, Fifa announced a £17.5m ($28m) plan to crack down on match-fixing and illegal betting working alongside Interpol.

It said the money would be spent on a 10-year anti-corruption programme to educate players, as well as referees and officials.

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