Football: Putin warned over match-fixing in Russia
Match-fixing is a problem in Russian football and the law must be urgently tightened ahead of the 2018 World Cup, a top official said in an open letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Thursday.
Sergei Stepashin, the powerful head of the national audit office, said Russia had to follow the lead of Turkey in drawing up tough anti-match fixing laws which were this month used to arrest top figures in Turkish football.
"Recently, a number of countries have seen an increase in the problem of match-fixing," Stepashin wrote in a letter to Putin published by the Sovetsky Sport daily and the Interfax news agency.
"Unfortunately, this is also a problem characteristic of Russian football," he added.
He said that the consequence of fixed matches was a "reduction in public interest in football and the loss of top players to foreign clubs."
Stepashin said that match-fixing "discredits the Russian football league in the eyes of Russians and foreigners and hits the image of Russia as the host of the 2018 World Cup."
Russia has embarked on a major campaign to spruce up its domestic league ahead of the 2018 World Cup to bring games up to Western European standards.
Stepashin did not offer examples of fixed matches but Russian fans have for years had suspicions about pre-arranged results in games that ended in the most predictable draws or had seemingly inexplicable errors.
He praised the actions of the Turkish authorities who have charged some 30 people in a match-fixing probe, including the president of reigning champions Fenerbahce and the vice-president and the coach of Istanbul giant Besiktas.
"It has become more necessary to examine enforcing criminal responsibility for match-fixing and introducing these changes into the Russian criminal code," he said.
© 2011 AFP