For the first time, a talk has been given to all eight teams participating in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship about the threat that match-fixing can pose to football and players' careers.
UEFA disciplinary inspector Karl Dhont explained that UEFA is investigating a considerable number of cases of alleged match-fixing from the last two years, with referees, clubs and players all implicated. It is the dangers that the U17 players taking part in the finals in Liechtenstein could face in their careers that he was keen to emphasise.
The main message is that players should always think about the future and not be tempted to make short-term gains. Dhont warned of the risk of criminals involved in corrupt practices in football contacting a player and asking them to manipulate the outcome of a game. The slightest hint of agreement from a player, Dhont advised, will be latched on to by those looking to fix a match. Threats and violence can follow should cooperation from a player not be forthcoming.
UEFA has adopted a hard line to such malpractice and uses a sophisticated IT system to trace back any money that has been part of any untoward arrangement in order to locate the culprit. UEFA also has a worldwide network of informants that includes former players, referees and bookmakers who help to stamp out corruption in the game.
Dhont's advice to those footballers just starting out is to surround themselves with people they trust, to be very careful with handling sensitive information and to think about their careers in the long term. He is telling the U17 representatives of all eight countries involved in this competition to pass on the message that should they or any of their team-mates be approached, they should refuse and contact UEFA or their national football association.
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