Britain sleepwalking into match-fixing crisis

British football authorities have been “sleepwalking” into a match-fixing crisis, according to a leading authority on the subject.

The UK’s National Crime Agency made six arrests on Wednesday as a result of an investigation carried out by the Telegraph newspaper into alleged illegal betting activity on matches.

Declan Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime and The Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing in Football, claims the Football Association and other bodies have been caught on the hop.

“British football administrators have been sleepwalking themselves into a crisis,” he told Perform. “They’ve been warned about this for years.

“I’m not surprised. This tide of globalised sports corruption has reached all around the world, so it’s not a surprise at all.”

Hill suspects the problem is not as bad as in other parts of the world, but does not rule out more cases emerging in Britain.

“It’s not an endemic problem as it is in Italy or Turkey or various parts of Asia,” he added. “But are there other cases apart from this one out there? Absolutely.

“I think it’s very dangerous to start drawing lines. Until 12 hours ago, British journalists drew a line saying ‘fixing begins at Calais’.

“Now I’m hearing in interviews, ‘fixing is only in the amateur leagues’. It’s going to go up and up and up.”

And Hill believes that a failure to prepare adequately for the spectre of match-fixing by the authorities, has opened the door for criminal elements.

“There are no stalwart realistic defences against this corruption,” he added. “Does the Football Association have an integrity officer? Yes, in name they do, but they don’t have a specially designated fellow that every player in England knows who to contact if there are problems.

“They don’t have a gambling hotline for players getting themselves into problems.

“There’s no capacity for players that have gambling addictions or gambling problems to put their hand up and say ‘Look, I’ve got a problem, I’m going to take this seriously and I’ll come back in three weeks, six weeks, two months’ or whatever it is.

“If a player does that at this moment, they basically sign a death warrant to their own career.

“So there’s some really basic, simple stuff that can be done and it hasn’t been done.

“It doesn’t cost very much money. How long does it take to set up an anonymous hotline? You phone up BT, get a phone number, get somebody there to answer it and bingo, away you go. At most it takes you a week.

“These are not difficult solutions to have.”

Indeed, they are not, but judging by the Telegraph investigation, these solutions have proved beyond Football Association.

FIFA waits to discover extend of Brazil stadium damage

FIFA is trying to determine the extent of the damage caused by the collapse at the stadium hosting the 2014 World Cup opener and until then it won’t be able to assess how much the accident will delay the venue’s completion date.

Two workers were killed when a crane crashed into a metal structure that toppled over part of the stadium in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

FIFA wanted all 12 World Cup stadiums ready by the end of December but in the light of recent events it will probably have to accept the Sao Paulo venue after its original deadline. The governing body has said it has no Plan B for the host cities should Sao Paolo not be ready in time.

”It is too premature to make any detailed assessment on the situation of the Corinthians Arena as we are still awaiting the technical report to be able to evaluate the scale of the damage,” FIFA said in a statement. ‘

‘We will be able to provide an update earliest next week following the FIFA Organizing Committee of the FIFA World Cup.”

Next week FIFA heads to the resort city of Costa do Sauipe for the eagerly awaited World Cup draw.

Work at the Corinthians Arena was progressing well, but all activities have been stopped at least until Monday. Workers were given a three-day mourning period and those who went to the stadium on Thursday were turned back.

Former Corinthians President Andres Sanchez said that the accident didn’t cause any major structural damage, but added that getting the stadium delivered on time was the least of the club’s concern for the time being.

”I don’t want to know about FIFA right now; we are worried about the families of the victims,” he said.

FIFA released a statement on Wednesday saying that ”the safety of workers is the top priority” for football’s governing body.

Which will have elicited wry smiles amongst the migrant labour force currently toiling away in Qatar.

Engineers and technicians are conducting inspection visits at the venue to try to determine when it will be possible to reopen the construction site.

Wednesday’s accident wasn’t the first problem with World Cup stadiums in Brazil. Three workers have died in accidents at three construction sites over the past two years, and one stadium had work halted for nearly a week this year because of safety concerns.

Boost for South Africa as FIFA ratifies Spain game

South Africa Football Association President Dr Danny Jordaan says he is delighted that FIFA has confirmed that the Bafana Bafana-Spain friendly international was played within the rules of an ‘A’ category international friendly.

Speaking after receiving a letter from FIFA which confirmed that the South Africa-Spain friendly match on 19 November 2013 had been ratified as a full ‘A’ international encounter, Dr Jordaan said the world governing body had just confirmed SAFA’s long held position.

“We complied with all the regulations for this historic victory and I am happy this matter has been laid to rest. The country must savour this win as Bafana Bafana were the first country to beat Spain on the African continent.

“We expect that the impact of the victory will be reflected in the next December FIFA rankings as the ruling arrived on the date the November ranking were released,” added Dr Jordaan.

South Africa won the match thanks to a goal from Bernard Parker in the 56th minute.

But the 1-0 victory might have been rendered worthless had FIFA downgraded the game after Spain’s error.

The Spanish made one more substitution than FIFA regulations allow when Napoli keeper Pepe Reina came on on for injured Victor Valdes.

A statement from FIFA reads as follows:

“FIFA can confirm that the South Africa-Spain friendly match of 19 November remains an ‘A’ international, despite the fact that Spain allegedly used more than the maximum of six substitutes that the Laws of the Game stipulate can be used for such a match.

“FIFA have taken into account that both teams had agreed on the conditions of the match and submitted the necessary documentation prior to the match in order for FIFA to confirm it as an ‘A’ international. In this context, South Africa shall not suffer any negative consequences on its part for adhering to the agreed conditions and only using up to a maximum of six substitutes during the match.

“The match shall be considered as an official match and is therefore included in the November edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

“Regarding the alleged incident of Spain using more than the maximum of six substitutes, FIFA is currently analysing the information at our disposal to assess possible next steps.”

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Tributes pour in for Nilton Santos

Tributes have flowed in for Brazil’s two-time World Cup winner Nilton Santos, who died in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday at the age of 88.

The former Botafogo and Barzil left-back died of complications from a lung infection. He was also suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“He was loved as much as [Mane] Garrincha and respected like Pele,” Botafogo said on its official website.

Brazil legend Ronaldo expressed his sadness on Twitter.

“Nilton Santos is one of the most important figures in the history of Brazilian football,” Ronaldo said. “He is going to be greatly missed.”

Former Brazil and Flamengo great Zico also paid tribute.

“What sad news,” he said. “Nilton Santos will be a great loss in football and in life. Rest in peace.”

Regarded by many as the best left back to have played the game, he pioneered the overlapping full-back role which we now take for granted in modern football.

Santos represented Brazil 75 times, featuring in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup-winning teams. He was renowned for his adventurous attacking runs and in many ways was the architect of the modern wing back position.

Nílton Santos is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004.

Brazilians also referred to him as the Encyclopedia of Football due to his deep knowledge of the game.

BVB physio raids club shop for replacement shirt

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender was forced to play with a club shop replica top after a bloody nose forced him into four changes of shirt against Napoli on Tuesday.

The kit man was sent to the club shop after Bender bloodied three strips in Dortmund’s 3-1 win against the Serie A side.

Footballers are prohibited from playing with blood on their kit and the 24-year-old tried to plug up his bloody nose with cotton wool, but to no avail, and in the end the physio had little option but to head for the club store.

BVB coach Jurgen Klopp said: “It was important that [Bender] stayed on because of his performance.

“It was a great game for him and we had to change his bloodied shirt several times. The last one we got from the club shop.”