UEFA's ongoing fight to rid football of corruption has continued with a series of talks warning of the dangers of match-fixing delivered to all eight teams taking part in this year's UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Slovenia.
Graham Peaker, intelligence coordinator in the UEFA disciplinary services unit, has been giving the presentations in Maribor and Ljubljana as part of UEFA's efforts to ensure that the outcome of all games should be "determined solely on the merits of the competing teams".
Peaker informed the players that match-fixing is "cheating to lose". UEFA's message to any player approached is threefold: recognise that you are being asked to become involved in match-fixing; resist the opportunity to do so; report the matter to your club, your national association or directly to UEFA.
Those aspiring youngsters taking part in the tournament are the future of the sport, Peaker continued, and UEFA is therefore keen to deliver its message to them in a bid to "protect you and football". The players heard that match-fixing is a form of corruption which has the capacity to be a scourge on the game and can affect everything from attendances to sponsorship.
Peaker also advised all those attending his talks that the repercussions of fixing a match can be severe, with life bans and prison sentences for players, as well as exclusion from European competition for clubs, among the punishments.
UEFA's sophisticated IT systems and its cooperation with police and state authorities are key to unearthing guilty parties. Peaker concluded by urging every player to deliver UEFA's message to their team-mates when they return to their clubs.
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