Fifa to monitor its sports betting

ZURICH - Fifa is expanding its system for monitoring sports betting to prevent match-fixing scandals in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

ZURICH - Fifa is expanding its system for monitoring sports betting to prevent match-fixing scandals in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Soccer's world governing body said at the weekend it had set up an independent company in Zurich - called Early Warning System - to monitor betting patterns when World Cup qualifying begins later this year.

Fifa said the project is part of efforts "to safeguard the integrity of the game" and "prevent sports betting from having any negative impact on football matches".

Fifa said it will sign contracts with bookmakers and betting companies requiring them to report any irregular betting activities.

Fifa spokesman Andreas Herren said the move was intended to prevent match-fixing scandals such as those which rocked German and Brazilian soccer in recent years.

German referee Robert Hoyzer was convicted in November 2005 of rigging 23 matches on behalf of a betting ring. And in 2005 a Brazilian referee, Edilson Pereira de Carvalho, confessed to accepting bribes from gamblers to ensure the outcomes of games.

Herren said match-fixing was not a new phenomenon, "but with the internet and new media technologies it has taken on a new dimension".

Fifa set up a betting monitoring system before the 2006 World Cup in Germany and used it throughout the tournament. The same will be used for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

"The long-term idea is obviously that the system will then become available also to confederations and national associations," Herren said.

Under Fifa ethics rules, officials, players and players' agents are forbidden from betting on matches, or having a stake in companies engaged in betting.

Fifa's latest move comes amid investigations into betting in the NBA and men's tennis.

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty last Wednesday to two felony charges in a scandal that rocked the league and tarnished the integrity of the sport.

He allegedly bet on games, including some he officiated. - Sapa-AP

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