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Allegations Hit Spain as FIFA Creates Betting Task Force

3rd December 2009 11:32 am GMT

The Executive Committee of FIFA, football's governing body, agreed Wednesday to the creation of an international task force to fight against irregular and illegal betting in football, a day after the Spanish Football Federation opened disciplinary procedures against a number of Spanish players who are suspected of betting on the outcome of games.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation announced Tuesday that it was instigating disciplinary procedures against a number of players who are suspected of betting on matches in which they were participating, in response to a warning from UEFA that they may have sought to manipulate the outcome of games.

It said that following on from enquiries, it had decided to pass to the Attorney General a dossier of the allegations and to make available any information which could help to determine whether criminal proceedings against the players should also be instigated.

Meanwhile at an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of FIFA on Wednesday, called at the request of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the association also addressed the issue of betting in football.

The Committee approved a decision to establish an international task force to fight against irregular and illegal betting activities in football, supported by Interpol.

The Executive Committee also agreed with FIFA's proposal to unify all football warning systems behind this task force in order to better coordinate the fight against illegal activities and enhance cooperation with Interpol, national authorities and football authorities in this area.

There are now over 40 games under investigation in European football which are suspected of being manipulated by illegal betting syndicates, with seven new games being added to the investigation last week by UEFA.

Following last week's UEFA announcement, the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) has confirmed that no suspicious betting patterns were identified by any of its members relating to the games in question.

"We have carried out a thorough analysis, and I can say categorically that none of our members found anything unusual about the games released by UEFA" said Frank Mahon, Chairman of ESSA.

"We can be confident that the ESSA early warning system is not only acting as an effective deterrent to would-be match-fixers, but if they try and place bets with the licensed European online operators carrying the ESSA seal they will be caught-out."

Mr. Mahon added that it was in the interest of regulated bookmakers to ensure the integrity of sports and to address this deeply worrying recent trend.

"Anything that undermines confidence and integrity is not only worrying for the sports themselves, but is potentially serious for us," he said. "It is the gaming industry that will suffer a financial loss."

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