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Officials from the governing body of football in the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), met Interpol Secretary General Ronald K Noble at the world police body’s General Secretariat to discuss cooperation with the police body’s Integrity in Sport Unit. Interpol having agreed a 10-year initiative with FIFA in May 2011 to better tackle corruption in football, the Dutch visit touched on developing and implementing a global training, education and prevention programme against irregular betting and match-fixing.
The Dutch delegation, which included Gijs De Jong, Head of Competitions, KNVB, Tjeerd Veenstra, Director of De Lotto, and Wouter Boshuis, Integrity Officer, KNVB, were updated on the work, including awareness and understanding of irregular betting and match-fixing, the strategies used by its perpetrators, and the methods to detect and counteract them.
“We need to work collectively to combat corruption in football and to keep our sport clean. National authorities must work together to combat match-fixing, especially with young players, and in this effort cooperation with Interpol’s global network and Integrity in Sport unit is important,” said Tjeerd Veenstra.
Noble said: “As one of the founding members of FIFA, the KNVB’s long history and leadership in safeguarding footballing standards means it is a key player in collective efforts to stem corruption in football. The problem of match-fixing poses a danger to more than just the reputations and livelihoods of sports professionals and associations; match-fixing has now become a global threat with large amounts of money used for other illegal activities, and a concerted approach is therefore crucial.”
The KNVB’s Gijs De Jong said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Secretary General Noble and INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport team. Integrity and fair and honest competitions are the most valuable goods in our sports and we need to do everything to protect them and prevent match-fixing. The Royal Netherlands Football Association therefore looks forward to hosting soon a workshop in the Netherlands, involving the country’s relevant organizations to share experiences, good practice and ways of enhancing training, education and prevention of match-fixing.”
In 2011 Interpol created its Integrity in Sports unit, which has already brought together specialists from law enforcement, sports and the betting industry for meetings and held the pilot national training workshop for police, players, referees, regulators and academic institutions in Finland in April 2012. By the end of 2012, training will be provided to referees and assistants for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. An online learning programme will also be launched as a preventative tool for players who may be targeted by criminals seeking to manipulate the outcome of a game.
At the recent Euro 2012 tournament, besides the deployment of an Interpol Major Events Support Team to Poland and Ukraine, Interpol also ran operation SOGA – short for soccer gambling – targeting illegal football gambling across Southeast Asia. The three previous SOGA operations conducted in the region during major soccer tournaments have resulted in nearly 7,000 arrests, the seizure of more than 26 million US dollars in cash and the closure of illegal gambling dens which handled more than two billion dollars’ worth of bets. The visit the Dutch governing body of football came a day after the president of one of Turkey’s top football clubs, Fenerbahçe, was sentenced to more than six years in prison for match-fixing.