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Main focus of Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Match-fixing scandal rocks football world

World Cup and European Championship qualifying games were reportedly among the games that were fixed. (© dapd)

The European Union's law enforcement agency Europol has announced that it has uncovered the biggest match-fixing scandal in the history of football. It presented a report in The Hague on Monday according to which more than 380 games worldwide were manipulated. For some commentators the scandal is further proof of the extent to which the top sport is under the control of the betting mafia. Others believe that the revelations will have little negative impact on profession football.

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

King Football in the mafia's stranglehold

The betting mafia has a stronghold on King Football, columnist Bert Wagendorp concludes in the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant: "According to the Europol report, five Dutchmen are also suspected of involvement - that was the big new here too yesterday. We are always surprised when it becomes clear that we too have our corrupt sports celebrities. For a long time we believed that our cyclists don't take performance-enhancing drugs and our footballers are above feigning injuries - until [football pro] Arjen Robben taught us that they aren't. ... The problem is too big for sport to solve it alone. We know that now from the doping scandals. ... This top sport has simply gone off track and become an important sector for the entertainment and betting industry. And the mafia just loves that kind of thing." (05/02/2013)

Libération - France

Politicians must also protect major sports

Europe's governments must act quickly to prevent top-level sports from suffering further setbacks after the football match-fixing scandal, the left-liberal daily Libération urges: "It's well-known that the betting on the Internet and elsewhere, which is an essential component of the sporting world, serves as an ideal means for money laundering. Because it's less dangerous than traditional crimes like drug dealing or arms trading - and is perhaps even more lucrative. Above all, new mafia organisations from China, the Balkans and elsewhere benefit from almost total impunity. Europe has no common regulations on match-fixing. The continent still has no effective means of investigating such crimes, and no appropriate legal arsenal. With its announcement, Europol wanted to bring this deficit to the public's attention and encourage the European governments and sporting associations to shoulder their responsibilities." (04/02/2013)

Polityka Online - Poland

Match-fixing will hardly hurt football

Europol's revelations are not likely to inflict any lasting damage on football, the left-liberal news portal Polityka Online believes: "Of course this scandal mustn't be played down - especially because generally speaking football is an important business. ... Only last week the weekly France Football revealed that there were irregularities - perhaps even corrupt dealings - in the bidding process for the organisation of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, which was won by Qatar. However the paper could not provide any proof to speak of. Cases of corruption and dirty dealings in football have surfaced time and again. Not only are there articles, reports and films on the subject, but even whole books. Also about Fifa president João Havelange and Sepp Blatter. And what has happened? Nothing at all so far. The ball rolls on." (05/02/2013)

Aamulehti - Finland

Europol proves its worth

The international match-fixing scandal not only sheds light on large-scale fraud in sport but also proves that founding the European police authority Europol was worthwhile, the liberal daily Aamulehti comments: "That even some European Championship and World Cup qualifying games and games in the highly popular Champions League were manipulated for financial gain is absolutely appalling. The more closely we look at the sports business today, the more one is confronted with sad truths. Nowadays the main thing is no longer taking part or fairness - all that matters is profits. And if you can't make those playing by the rules, then you cheat. But there is a positive aspect to the news of the match-fixing scandal. It has shown that the EU didn't establish its police authority Europol in vain. The politicians must realise that a growing number of social problems are of an international nature and that the authorities must combat them with cross-border action." (05/02/2013)

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