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FIFA's match-fixing detection deal queried

Press Association logoPress Association 3/02/2017 Matt Slater

FIFA's former head of security has questioned the move by world soccer's governing body to outsource protection against match-fixing to a private company.

Now a freelance sports integrity expert, Chris Eaton spent two years at FIFA between 2010 and 2012 targeting gangs who had infiltrated football to manipulate betting markets.

But Eaton, who has 40 years of police experience in his native Australia and with INTERPOL, has concerns about FIFA possibly leaving most of this work up to a Swiss data analysis company.

He was speaking to Press Association Sport on the day FIFA announced a new deal with Sportradar Integrity Services.

Sportradar uses powerful computers to look for patterns and spikes in betting markets, and also provides early-warning services to the Asian Football Confederation, South America's CONMEBOL, basketball's NBA and World Rugby.

Eaton said: "Sportradar has its roots and purpose in the sport-betting data business.

"Fundamentally, betting monitoring for sport bodies is a money-making business. It is not, and will never be, a complete solution to match-fixing. It is a forensic tool to help wider investigation and intelligence."

FIFA has until now monitored for fixing through its subsidiary Early Warning System (EWS), and its integrity unit. The world governing body has not specified how the Sportradar deal may affect EWS in the future but a FIFA spokesperson said it was currently continuing to investigate threats to the game.

Eaton said that any sport body relying exclusively on a profit-motivated body to analyse potential match-fixing would be "either foolish or window-dressing integrity".

In a statement announcing the deal, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: "Preserving the integrity of the game is paramount. Given that match manipulation is still a serious concern for everyone who loves the game, FIFA will work with Sportradar, the global leader in match manipulation detection and prevention, to invigorate and enhance our integrity programme."

Infantino signed a similar agreement with Sportradar when he was general secretary at UEFA, a move that followed an embarrassing episode when European football's governing body was duped into inviting a Croatian con man with links to illegal gamblers into its match-fixing investigations unit.

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