UEFA's battle against match-fixing continues with the players competing at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia being informed of the many dangers associated with this criminal activity.
In his role as intelligence coordinator in the UEFA disciplinary services unit, Graham Peaker has been making presentations to all eight competing teams and the referees at the finals. "The betting market is quite complicated but there are people out there who know how to manipulate it," Peaker told the Serbia squad in one session at team headquarters in Tallinn.
"All games should be played in a spirit of fair play and respect with the outcome determined solely on the merits of the competing teams. However, domestic league matches in Europe are being manipulated for betting purposes. We need to eradicate that and at UEFA we are working very hard to do so. UEFA organises approximately 1,800 matches per season and we monitor each and every one, in addition to over 30,000 domestic matches in our 53 national associations. We can see in the betting markets when something irregular is happening and we know when a match has been fixed."
Peaker warned players how and by whom they may at some stage be approached in the future in relation to manipulating a game. "These will be people who have no interest in football," he said. "They are only interested in easy profit. They are dangerous characters involved in organised crime and if you allow them to become involved with you, they will remember you for life."
In times of global economic problems, clubs and players would nowadays appear to be more at risk than ever to approaches from criminal elements. Peaker also urged his audiences to be wary of posting sensitive information on social networking pages that may be used by potential match-fixers.
"The individuals behind this can find out a lot about you by accessing information on your Facebook pages. They can monitor your photos, trace your movements and see who your friends and family are. Please be careful what you are posting as criminals can pressure your friends, family and relatives; we have seen this happening."
Despite the strong warnings, Peaker rallied the players around a message of unity in the fight against corruption and insisted that together they, along with their coaches, match officials and the entire UEFA family, would continue to fight the problem head on.
"You are Under-19 players at the start of a promising career," he said. "We want to protect you and football from dangerous people. UEFA needs you; we need talented young players and referees. We can't continue to battle this problem without your help. Our message to you is that should you come across any element of match-fixing in the future, follow the three 'Rs': Recognise, Resist and Report. We don't want you involved in organised crime and we don't want football pitches to become crime scenes."
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