London (AFP) - The police tactic of turning "foot soldiers" against their bosses in organised crime gangs is having a positive impact on tackling match-fixing in sport, an expert in the field says.
Alex Inglot of Sportradar, a leading company in the prevention and detection of betting- related match-fixing, said law-enforcement agencies globally were now deploying the same strategy they have used down the years for bringing to justice mafia bosses.
Inglot used the example of Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier games there. He subsequently assisted match-fixing investigators and named others higher up in the scheme.
"Much like historical organised crime investigations, you try and catch the people towards the bottom of the pyramid and put pressure on them," Inglot, communications director of Sportradar, told AFP on the sidelines of the Betting on Sports Conference in London.
"And hopefully like in mafia cases in the US you're subsequently trying to flip people further and further up the chain," added Inglot, who deals with clients such as UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
Sportradar works with Europol and Australian police, for example, to share intelligence to put pressure on the sports fixing masterminds.
"The onus is not only on Sportradar with its intelligence and its reports but also the police to realise the depth of the problem and chip away at that," said Inglot, adding that Sportradar has been involved in around 25 successful prosecutions in alliance with law enforcement since 2013.
Match-fixing is a natural target for organised crime because of the amount of money involved, he said.
"I think because of the development of match-fixing we've seen serious organised crime taking a real interest in how they can make money out of it and that's really changed the landscape," said Inglot.
"It's no longer relatives trying to make a bit of extra money from finding out if someone's injured. This is serious, serious money, when one is talking about sports betting the turnover is trillions of dollars.
"It's a significant problem and unless it is tackled pretty comprehensively it will continue to undermine the credibility of sport going forward."
- Building a case -
Inglot revealed that sometimes federations will permit fixed matches to go ahead as a price for building a successful case against offenders in the long term.
"What we have seen in certain circumstances is that because the federation wants to build a really strong case they find multiple instances of completed fixes are really critical for them to build a watertight case," said Inglot.
"Inevitably what happens if the prosecution goes through and is successful there are remedial measures to rectify the previous results.
"It is a priority to think more long term to make a few things happen so that we can sanction this team properly.
"You have to deter these clubs and to deter them you have to have successful prosecutions."
Inglot says a case for having the equivalent of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in charge of match-fixing and illegal betting does not hold mass appeal for the moment.
He cites WADA funding and conflicts of interest as examples of the challenges such a body would face.
"At the moment we are talking about national initiatives and national focuses but I think it's only a matter of time before dots start getting joined up across borders and an informal international network starts coming into force," he said.
"That in turn might start a real serious debate about forming that into an international structure."