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UEFA and its president Michel Platini have underlined their zero tolerance policy towards corruption in European football. Mr Platini reiterated the European body's determination after the UEFA Executive Committee's latest meeting in Valletta, Malta, on Thursday.
"We will use all of our strength to combat all those who corrupt the game," said Mr Platini. "If journalists know before the match who is going to win, there's no interest, and football would be killed in this way. Sincerely, it's a real problem.
Cannot be treated lightly
"Any player who is caught will never play football again. Those who corrupt football at refereeing level will never referee again. Anyone who corrupts as a president or coach will never manage or coach again. This is the will of the president and Executive Committee. We cannot treat this lightly."
Betting Fraud Detection System
UEFA has already taken measures to invest heavily in a Betting Fraud Detection System (BFDS). UEFA also monitors all UEFA matches, as well as all domestic first and second-division matches and domestic cup games. In addition, UEFA has been assisting German police in a European match-fixing investigation, and is investigating several fixtures in the European competitions.
Additional assistant referees
The European body is involved in the experiment with additional assistant referees too, as a test to potentially help the referee's decision-making process. The experiment, sanctioned by football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), is being carried out in this season's UEFA Europa League.
Time to change refereeing
"Today, when a referee takes a decision, there are 20 cameras which show the decision. Television shows errors – but we all know that the referee can't see everything. I think that it is time to change refereeing and to reflect on what refereeing is," said Mr Platini. "Sufficient referees should be deployed to cover all parts of the pitch. Today, football is the only sport where there is one referee covering the entire pitch. It is easy to show all the things that a referee can't see. One referee is not enough. Our role is to put into place a system of eyes which can cover the whole [pitch]."
2016 bid handover
The bid handover for UEFA EURO 2016 is approaching. On 15 February, three candidates to host the tournament – France, Italy and Turkey – are due to hand their bid dossiers to UEFA, with a final decision on the hosts expected on 28 May. The 2016 final round will be the first to feature 24 teams, and Mr Platini explained the reasons behind the UEFA Executive Committee's decision.
Protect the game
"The role of UEFA is to protect the game. There are technical and organisational advantages. A EURO with 24 teams can provide plenty of good teams without the level of technical quality falling," said Mr Platini, who recalled that many strong sides had missed out on final-round participation in the past. "We are also going to have a fabulous knockout round with 16 teams, which we didn't have before. This is going to give the competition more quality in technical terms."
Five more associations – Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova and Wales – have joined the UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation, which aims to improve refereeing structures and development within the European associations. UEFA's national associations director Theodore Theodoridis has also been appointed UEFA's deputy general secretary.
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