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Interpol, Fifa war on graft

INTERPOL is to join forces with Fifa in Johannesburg to help soccer authorities in the fight against match-fixing.

The international police organisation and world soccer's governing body will host a workshop later this month aimed at educating representatives from Southern African states about the latest trends in match-fixing and corruption in football.

The "Asiagate" scandal involving Zimbabwean teams - which led to more than 100 players being suspended for their suspected involvement in match-fixing on tours in Asia - has laid bare the dangers of betting syndicates.

Representatives from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe will attend the workshop amid fears that these countries are being targeted by syndicates, with activity already confirmed in the past.

All these nations have organised domestic competitions, but with the exception of SA, players are largely still amateur or receive modest salaries in global terms.

This is the perfect breeding ground for betting syndicates, who can tempt players with relatively small amounts of money.

Those who have admitted to their involvement in the Asiagate scandal said they received just $1000 (R8140) to fix matches, a significant amount for players who turn out in the Zimbabwean League for meagre salaries of about R1200 a month.

The workshop, to be held on August 25 and 26, will be attended by high-ranking Fifa officials from the organisation's security division, legal department and Early Warning System programme, which tracks unusual patterns in betting worldwide in real time.

Delegates, who will include regional football administrators, player and referee representatives, betting regulators and law enforcement officials from the countries involved, will be updated on the latest trends in match-fixing and what to look out for at home.

They will also be given presentations on good governance and how to educate football players against the dangers of corruption.

Interpol has established a dedicated "Integrity in Sport" division based in France that over the next decade will attempt to eradicate fraudulent activities in sports betting.

The global policing body held one such workshop as a pilot project in Finland earlier this year, where nine players from one team were convicted of match-fixing in 2011.

Six of the players were Zambian nationals.

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