The players at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship have been delivered with a warning over the dangers of becoming involved in match-fixing.
Graham Peaker, intelligence coordinator in the UEFA disciplinary services unit, has been speaking to all eight teams involved in the tournament as part of UEFA's continued fight against corruption. Informing the players that their matches in Serbia are available on the major Asian betting markets, Peaker spoke of UEFA's work in uncovering games that are being manipulated.
Stressing that match-fixing – and any involvement with it – is a criminal offence, he informed the aspiring youngsters that UEFA's sophisticated IT systems and cooperation with police and state authorities are key to unearthing guilty parties.
At the age of 16 or 17, players at the tournament could be considered particularly vulnerable to approaches from match-fixers. Peaker emphasised that UEFA is attempting to protect them and the integrity of football by detailing the possible repercussions of becoming involved.
While potential life bans would ruin any footballer's career, the criminal nature of match-fixing ensures those heading it "have no respect for human life" according to Peaker. He added that if ever asked to fix a match, players should immediately say no and report the approach to UEFA or to a trusted member of their club or national association.
As well as posing a personal and professional threat to a player, Peaker told the attendees that match-fixing is a plague on football which aims to undermine the integrity of the game. "We want to protect you and football," he said, concluding by requesting that the international players present take this message back to their club team-mates.
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