UEFA head suggests sports police force

UEFA head suggests sports police force

LONDON - The Associated Press
UEFA head suggests sports police force

UEFA President Michel Platini welcomes the delegates as he opens the 37th Ordinary UEFA Congress in London, where key issues are discussed. AP photo

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) President Michel Platini wants to establish a European sports police force to tackle betting, corruption, match-fixing, doping and hooliganism.

Addressing the UEFA Congress in London on Friday, Platini said that his previous calls have been ignored by governments for six years.

“Given the absence of any reaction and the lack of awareness on the part of politicians, I renew that call today,” Platini said. “And if, by misfortune, this call again falls on deaf ears, I ask that each country, at the very least, adopts specific provisions of national legislation addressing the issue of match-fixing, in order to finally have the legal tools necessary to rigorously punish these cheats.”

Only 10 nations have such provisions, Platini said.

Europol, the European Union police liaison agency, said in February that it reviewed 680 suspicious recent cases of match-fixing.

Platini said that manipulating matches “strikes at the soul of our sport, the very essence of the game.”

“We are not dealing with petty criminals who are looking to make ends meet,” he added. “It would seem that we are, in some instances, dealing with mafia-type organizations that are using certain matches to launder money, tarnishing our sport in the process.”

European football leaders are gathering in London ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.

Financial concerns
The congress was opened by Prince William, the second in line to the British throne who is president of the English Football Association.

“My money is on Bayern Munich 2-0,” the Duke of Cambridge quipped.

During Platini’s speech, the “worrying financial situation at certain clubs in Europe” was also addressed as the UEFA president underlined the need for them to abide by Financial Fair Play regulations. Platini highlighted the failure of clubs to pay their tax debts, which is a condition of getting a license from their national association.