- POSTED: 11 Dec 2013 04:04
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English football's governing body insisted Tuesday that match-fixing was not widespread, as chiefs from major sports held talks with the government on tackling the problem together.
LONDON: English football's governing body insisted Tuesday that match-fixing was not widespread, as chiefs from major sports held talks with the government on tackling the problem together.
However, Football Association general secretary Alex Horne warned against complacency after discussions with representatives from cricket, horse racing and the two rugby codes.
The swiftly-arranged meeting comes after a series of arrests relating to English football.
DJ Campbell, a striker with second-tier Championship side Blackburn, is one of six people arrested as part of a spot-fixing investigation by the National Crime Agency, Britain's equivalent of the FBI, following a newspaper expose.
In a separate probe into an alleged international illegal betting syndicate, the NCA has charged two players at sixth-tier Conference South side Whitehawk with conspiracy to defraud. They will appear in court on Wednesday.
Two others in the case have been accused of conspiring to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets.
Maria Miller, the sports minister, called in representatives from Britain's most popular sports to get them working together on the issue.
"The intelligence that we have says this isn't a wide-scale issue at the moment but, again, we don't want to be complacent," Horne said after the meeting at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
"There's a lot we can learn from other sports. Some of the education programmes that cricket have put in place are very far advanced, and the integrity unit that the British Horseracing Authority have in place is very far advanced."
Representatives from English football's Premier League and the Football League below it attended, as did the Gambling Commission regulatory body.
At the meeting, some sports pushed for new laws to make fixing itself a criminal offence. Presently police have to use charges of fraud or other offences.
However, the government believes the NCA charges and arrests prove the current laws are sufficient.
Miller said Britain's major sports had agreed to share experiences in educating athletes and reporting fixing.
"Match-fixing is a real threat to the integrity of sport. If fans don't trust what they see, the integrity of sport will be permanently damaged," she said.
"British sport is a world-class product and we want it to stay that way.
"The NCA have shown that they will act and charge those that corrupt sport and the message is clear to players that are tempted to go down that road in Britain: you will be caught and punished."