Saturday, November 03, 2012
Sport-Russia wants match-fixers to be sent to jail
By Gennady Fyodorov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin plans to introduce new legislation in Russia to fight corruption and match-fixing in sport that could send offenders to jail for up to seven years.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday the tough measures, which also include fines of up to one million roubles ($32,000), would be in place before the end of the year.
"We're talking about a whole set of measures, aimed to fight falsification of results, illegal betting and match-fixing," Mutko said. "Wire-tapping would be one of them."
While Russia is getting ready to host soccer's 2018 World Cup, experts say widespread match-fixing and corruption have been rife in the domestic game but rarely has anyone been convicted or brought to trial.
Only one team, second division Iriston Vladikavkaz, have been found guilty of attempted match-fixing. They were thrown out of the league in 1997 but later reinstated in a lower division.
Chris Eaton, a former head of security for soccer's world governing body FIFA, has urged Russia to get tough on match-fixing rather than just acknowledge the problem.
"You can just go through FIFPro's so-called 'Black Book' to find out how deep the problem is in eastern Europe and Russia," Eaton told Reuters earlier this year.
FIFPro, the global union for professional players, published a survey of nearly 3,400 players from eastern Europe this year that said match-fixing in Russia was as high as 43.5 percent.
Mutko, who also heads the 2018 World Cup's local organising committee, feels the new measures would help police bring the criminal element to justice.
"The most important thing is to create a legal instrument that would allow the law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with any suspicious results or matches," Mutko said.
However, the president of the country's bookmakers association was sceptical the new measures would work in Russia.
"I think it could only create more headache for us because it would make us responsible for keeping track of all our records," Oleg Zhuravsky was quoted as saying by local media.
"Our association has been cooperating with (the Russian FA) for over five years now, but during that time the FA didn't have a single person who would store and analyse our information," Zhuravsky said.
"You're talking about introducing new effective measures now. Does it make any sense?"