BALL Association general secretary Alex Horne insists fixing in sport is “not a big issue” but has warned against complacency following a spate of arrests.
Horne was among representatives from five major sports, also including cricket, rugby union and league and horse racing, who attended an emergency summit held by Culture Secretary Maria Miller yesterday.
“I think the general consensus around the room was this isn’t a big issue,” he said. “The intelligence that we have says this isn’t a wide-scale issue at the moment but, again, we don’t want to be complacent.
“As Britain, we are very proud of our sporting product, of the sport that we play in this country and we all want to do all we can to protect the integrity of that sport. We are never complacent on this issue and there’s a lot we can learn from other sports.”
Former Premier League footballer DJ Campbell was among six men arrested and bailed this week following allegations of spot-fixing. That followed the charging last month of two players from non-league side Whitehawk with conspiracy to defraud by influencing the outcome of matches for a betting ring.
Miller vowed to defend British sport’s “world-class product” and praised the newly formed National Crime Agency’s role in cracking down on fixing.
“Match-fixing is a real threat to the integrity of sport. If fans don’t trust what they see, the integrity of sport will be permanently damaged,” she said.
“The NCA have shown that they will act and charge those that corrupt sport and the message is clear to players that are tempted to go down that road in Britain: you will be caught and punished.”
A centralised, multi-sport hotline for whistleblowers – the FA already has its own – is thought to be among measures under consideration, while Horne said lessons could be learned from cricket and horse racing.