Michel Platini, the President for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), urged lawmakers last week to use the bloc-wide liberalisation of gambling to protect football from illegal Asian betting syndicates.
According to a report from the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, the former coach of the French national soccer team told a press conference that Europe needs a ‘sports police’ to stamp out illegal forms of betting. The 53-year-old was speaking after a Council of Europe-organised conference in Athens held to discuss ethics in sports.
“We have this incredible opportunity in the coming weeks or months through the liberalisation of betting (in Europe),” said Platini.
“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 stated that his role was to ‘tell politicians to give us that legal framework’.
“For the moment, (the regulations) are very business, competition-focused,” said Platini.
“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. UEFA have 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.”
Platini revealed that Europe’s governing body for soccer would propose at its upcoming Congress that its warning system implemented for international matches be extended to domestic competitions. It has even offering funding to national associations in order to make this a reality.
“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,” said Platini.