FIFA’s top security man still thinks more needs to be done by governments to protect sports from certain types of criminal activity. Chris Eaton, who leaves his job as FIFA head of security next month, feels his warnings over unregulated gambling in parts of South East Asia has largely been ignored by governments.
“Sports are not designed for investigating criminals,” Eaton told BBC Sport. “They are set up to discipline their own people – players and officials – but only governments can deal with this influx of rapacious criminality. Sports have stepped in to fill this space because governments have failed to address it.”
Eaton was originally at Interpol and leaves to take on a role at the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) in Qatar. The threat from unregulated gambling in South East Asia is something he thinks cannot be ignored. Without a stand against it on a global basis it’s clear there’ll be high-scale fixing cases.
“The fact is the amount of money that can be made in gambling, particularly in Asia, is huge and that is the attraction for criminals,” Eaton said. “You need a global approach. Governments must work collectively to take control of the industry. It is the primary cause for criminal interest in sport.”
With regard to the Olympic games, Eaton commented that although the market for it is small, gambling taking place in Britain is not the main place they should be looking. The “vast majority” of betting on the games takes place in South East Asia and “that’s where the arrangements need to be made”.
FIFA has already outlined its plans to fight match fixing after Eaton identified an industry worth up to $1 trillion – we’re presuming that came complete with Dr Evil laugh. They’re working with Interpol as well as sending a team of Sherlock Holmes lookalikes round the world to sniff out evidence. It’s the governments, though, that need to do a bit more to help bring match fixing to its knees. If that doesn’t happen, FIFA is unlikely to be able to stop the practice all by itself.