Sports

Feb 12, 2013 10:40 AM by Lauren Molenburg

Worldwide reputation of soccer taking a hit from match fixing

ZURICH (AP) - Around the world, the sport of soccer is falling under a cloud of suspicion as never before.

Its reputation has been sullied by a multibillion-dollar web of match-fixing that is corrupting increasingly larger parts of the world's most popular sport.

It's become a lucrative target, partly because of Internet betting.

The head of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security says soccer is "in a disastrous state." Chris Eaton says match-fixing as part of criminal gambling fraud is "absolutely endemic" -- and is "happening daily."

At least 50 nations in 2012 had match-fixing investigations - almost a quarter of the 209 members of FIFA, soccer's governing body - involving hundreds of people.

Europol, the European Union's police body, announced last week that it had found 680 "suspicious" games worldwide since 2008, including 380 in Europe.

Experts interviewed by The Associated Press believe that figure may be low. Sportradar, a company in London that monitors global sports betting, estimates that about 300 soccer games a year in Europe alone could be rigged.

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