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Platini urges EU protection for football from illegal Asian betting

12 December 2008 17:10

ATHENS (AFP) - UEFA president Michel Platini on Friday urged European lawmakers to use bloc-wide liberalisation of gambling to protect football from illegal Asian betting syndicates.

"We have this incredible opportunity in the coming weeks or months through the liberalisation of betting (in Europe)," Platini told a press conference at the end of a Council of Europe-organised conference here held to tackle problems concerning ethics in sport.

"Before, betting was state-run, now anybody can organise bets... Today, most illegal forms of betting come from Asia or China.

"The very honest betting in Europe in tax havens is one issue, but betting in Asia is more borderline."

Platini said he told the Council of Europe that "my role is to tell politicians to give us that legal framework... for the moment, (the regulations) are very business, competition-focused".

"We have to be able to prosecute, but it's not for UEFA to see if it is the referee, or players or club leaders," he said.

"UEFA has no jurisdiction, which is why I have said we need a European sports police. We (also) have issues of racism, xenophobia... but I think the spirit of sport through betting can be destroyed.

"Through UEFA we are putting our money where our mouths are... illegal betting is the real scourge, it's a terrible scourge for football as a whole.

"You can tolerate betting on a match, but not that... obscure manoeuvring can change the outcome of a match."

Platini said that UEFA will propose at its upcoming Congress that the warning system applied to UEFA competitions be extended to domestic competitions -- with European football's governing body offering funding to national associations.

Otherwise, "we are going to kill the whole system", he warned.

The conference drew up resolutions on areas of ethical debate within sport, highlighting privacy and data protection in areas such as doping.

Its chair, deputy secretary general Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, warned that out-of-competition testing of athletes was "a dangerous area which has to be clearly regulated".

In her speech, she also said: "The adoption of the new standard for the protection of privacy by WADA (the world anti-doping body) -- against the advice of European members -- may, in substance, well be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Other problems Platini said were affecting football included the trafficking of juvenile players and the need for sports bodies to be free from political interference.

In his speech to the conference, Platini also urged Europe to stop regarding incoming fans travelling to cross-border matches as being akin to the invasion of "Attila the Hun".

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