The FIFA broom
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It was a FIFA-appointed Australian supercop, Chris Eaton, who assembled a crack team to hunt down match-fixing syndicates in football in 2010. On Monday, the world was given some grim figures on the nature of the corruption by Europol (a European anti-crime agency) head Rob Wainwright, who announced that 680 matches worldwide, including those from the world cup and the Euro, qualifiers as well as Champions League, were under investigation. Eaton, currently working with the watchdog group, the International Centre for Sport Security, would have reason to feel satisfied as European prosecutors approach the culmination of the clean-up project he helmed, which has exposed the Singaporean fixing network and caught the key figure of Wilson Raj Perumal, who squealed on the dubious practices from a Budapest safe house.
But backing Eaton, way back in 2010, was the FIFA, the game's governing body, which, after the initial whispers of match-fixing, handed the responsibility to the former Interpol officer who had policed the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Eaton built for himself the dedicated team that sniffed its way to the Singapore hub, but by all accounts, FIFA too sunk its teeth into the challenge of getting to the root of this menace by setting up the early warning system, which policed live betting. Eaton himself had leaned on Sportradar, a gambling watchdog group based in London that keeps an eye on over 300 gambling sites, to zero in on Perumal and his boss Dan Tan Seet Eng in Singapore. The concerted efforts of FIFA and policemen in Europe have now led to football's biggest expose, and the details are still pouring out.
It is this proactive approach that has been found missing in cricket, a game no less attractive to match-fixing rings. A clean-up at the turn of the decade has been followed by revelations of spot-fixing and sundry other match-fixing allegations in lesser games, all exposed by the media. However, the ICC has reacted to these events, instead of being the driver of an aggressive policing campaign. Perhaps the anti-corruption unit of the ICC needs a Chris Eaton of its own, for corruption and greed are hardly a one-time occurence.