'FIFA are wrong… we have no fixes', says Premier League boss Scudamore
Richard Scudamore has hit back at
accusations that the Premier League is prey to match-fixers – and has
called on FIFA to take a greater lead fighting corruption in sport.
Scudamore, chief executive of the
Premier League, was concerned to hear claims from Chris Eaton, head of
security at FIFA, that corruption is widespread in football, with
English football specifically named.
Scudamore has overseen a range of
measures to ensure probity in the English game, and has even made
representations to FIFA requesting similar, uniform undertakings to
clean up the sport worldwide.
No fix: Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore
Yet, still, Eaton insisted: 'No league, not even the Champions League or the English Premier League, is immune to the problem. Corruption affects every level of the game.'
This provoked a robust response from Scudamore, who believes major football leagues should have a formalised contractual relationship with bookmakers, to eliminate the spot-fix style bets that are vulnerable to corrupting influences.
Scudamore said: 'I don't like just telling people to trust me, but I am as confident as I could ever be that we are on top of this and no Premier League football is fixed. True, we cannot think ourselves immune, but our intelligence, the way we work with the betting industry, the way we educate players and the selection process and rewards for referees, makes me feel pretty sure.
'There is a whole system in place, things we do that I can't even discuss because it would alert people and negate the value of the operation; it is a very sophisticated network.
'What I have long believed is that FIFA should be focusing all its efforts, and using all its power and influence with governments, to legalise gambling in those countries where it is underground, so it can then be regulated. It should also enshrine our right to have a commercial relationship with the betting industry if it is to take bets on our sport. We can then have a say on the type of bets being offered and those most open to manipulation, like first throw-in, can be eradicated. They simply shouldn't be allowed.
Next man up: Michel Platini
'As the Premier League, based in London, our influence is limited. It's easy for FIFA to say, “this could happen” – we live in a world where somebody can hijack a jumbo jet and fly it into the twin towers, so anything can, really. The better question is: what measures are being taken This is where FIFA should be strong. The legitimate betting industry would definitely support this because they share our concerns – and they don't want to be defrauded either.'
Scudamore also predicted problems for FIFA at government level if they attempt to switch the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to mid-winter when the desert climate is cooler.
Michel Platini, the likely successor to Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA, is a supporter of the switch, which the major European leagues believe will cause extreme fixture disruption for three years either side of the tournament.
Scudamore said: 'You just can't move it. I don't see how it is feasible at all.
'There is a worldwide fixture calendar and every league manages it and to then shift that has huge implications for every country because the fixture cycle is full. Ignoring the western European calendar for a moment, most other countries have summer sports, like we have cricket. Cycling, handball, what will these sports say
'That is where I think FIFA will have problem because the other sports will protest and governments will get involved. This won't just be an English objection, this will be worldwide, and a lot of pressure will be put on. Play it in the winter – it's a great idea until you start thinking about it. Then common sense has to prevail.'