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Thursday, June 08, 2006

No gambling and playing

Betting Scandals Have the World Cup on Guard

Published: June 8, 2006

HAMBURG, Germany, June 7 — A series of betting and match-fixing scandals in Europe and South America has led soccer's world governing body to institute extraordinary measures to ensure the legitimacy of the World Cup, which opens Friday in Munich.

Two referees in domestic leagues have been linked to scandals: Robert Hoyzer, left, has been jailed in Germany for rigging matches and the Italian Massimo De Santis lost his credentials as part of a probe into match fixing.

For the first time, players, referees and coaches are being required to sign pledges that neither they nor their immediate families will wager on the sport's global championship. One online sportsbook estimated as much as $1.89 billion would be bet with British bookmakers alone during the World Cup.

FIFA, soccer's Zurich-based world governing body, has created a company called Early Warning System. It is intended to work in concert with the international gambling industry to spot attempts to manipulate the outcome of World Cup matches.

Few details of the system have been made public. But FIFA officials have said they were concerned about the proliferation of Internet gambling and the influence of Asian betting syndicates as well as recent scandals in Brazil, Italy and Germany. If any suspicious betting patterns were detected, officials have said they might take pre-emptive action, such as switching a referee before a match.

"A number of scandals have affected football, for instance, the problem with the referees," Joseph S. Blatter, the president of FIFA, said this week at a news conference in Munich.

"When you see a circle drawn, the referee is at the heart of it," he said.

At the 2006 World Cup, referee assignments for the opening matches were announced a week ahead of time. During the tournament, the 81 referees and assistant referees are being housed at the Kempinksi Gravenbruch Hotel outside Frankfurt.

The hotel, which is in a wooded area, has booked no other guests except airline flight crews and longtime visitors who are familiar to the hotel staff, FIFA officials said. Ten security guards have been stationed inside the hotel while four police officers patrol the hotel grounds, according to FIFA. Referees said they were not allowed to receive phone calls direct to their rooms from outside the hotel. The world governing body also said this week that it would establish an independent ethics committee in an attempt to curb corruption scandals that could threaten fair play.

posted by Steve @ 1:18:00 AM

1:18:00 AM

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