Chris Eaton will leave FIFA believing that the basic structure is in place to help the world game fight matchfixing but concerned that sport cannot win the battle without a massive demonstration of willpower on behalf of government worldwide.
In May the Australian former policeman will hand over his role as head of security for FIFA and join the fledgling, Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security.
The timing of Eaton’s FIFA exit has been queried but he is confident that he has put the foundations in place on which his German successor, Ralf Mutschke, can continue to build.
Eaton, while attending the Global Sports Forum in Barcelona, told this writer: “There’s little more that I can do to create a structure for FIFA to respond to the increasing incursion of criminality in football.
“It’s become acutely clear to me that the criminals who operate in football are operating in all sports and the major problem is the illegal gambling networks out of south east Asia which is unmonitored, unregulated so there’s a massive amount of money for criminals to defraud and this applies to the whole realm of sport.
“We’re seeing it in South Korea now with volleyball and baseball and in Japan with sumo and in cricket which has been the subject of a sustained attack.”
This is the unveiled view of sport which has led Eaton to his insistence on the need for an integrated global response.
He said: “Until such times as we have both a global basis for regulating gambling and a way of monitoring all sports against gambling trends then we will not attack this at its root. At the moment we’re only really attacking sports themselves – and sports are the victims, after all.”
The danger of sporting corruption can only grow because of the world’s economic trend.
“We need to regulate the international movement of money,” said Eaton. “As the whole world economy moves and shifts to south east Asia it’s going to a region where there is a love of of gambling – and that’s perfectly normal and culturally acceptable. But it means they also have more liquidity and more money to spend.”
Eaton’s observation in trailing matchfixers around the world is that organised criminal groups are using the same tactics in sport as in other spheres of criminality.
He said: “They attract people, compromise people and intimidate them in that sequence. This is operating in sport: we’re seeing young players attracted, compromised and intimidated; the same for young referees attracted compromised and intimidated; and young officials and offials around the world in vulnerable countries.
“We need a concerted global effort. It cannot be attacked on a single national front.”
Eaton laid responsibility at the doorstep of football – and other sports – for not doing enough in its own defence in an era when the top-level wealth within football and other sports has far outstripped their administrative capacity.
As he warned: “Sport has lived in an ivory tower for too long.”
By Keir Radnedge