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© RIA Novosti. Anna Fialovskaya

FIFA eyes 12 games in Russia for match-fixing - sports minister

by at 17/10/2013 12:01

Twelve football matches in Russia are among several hundred worldwide that have been identified by the sport's world governing body FIFA as being possibly fixed, the country's sports minister said Thursday.

Match-fixing is thought to be common in Russian football - although nowhere near the scale of the 1990s - as the country readies to host the 2018 World Cup. The culprits are rarely held to account.

"Two years ago FIFA implemented a match-fixing warning system," Vitaly Mutko said. "Over this time around 400-500 such games were identified as suspicious, including about 12 of our football games," he added.

He didn't say which matches were under scrutiny, only that two games were "resonant," but explained that the country has increased its efforts to combat the scourge in recent years.

"We see that illogical bets are made, and this immediately enters the monitoring system," he said. "Having received the signal, football authorities send commissars, replace the match officials, and so on," Mutko added.

In an attempt to clean up the domestic game, Russian President Vladimir Putin in July signed legislation that toughens the maximum punishment for match-fixing to seven years in prison.

The law, proposed by Putin himself in January, makes it an offense for athletes, coaches and sports officials from betting on their own sports and couples prison time with a maximum 1 million ruble ($30,000) fine for those convicted.

The FIFPro international players' association claimed last year that as many as one in ten footballers in Russia has at some point received an offer to fix a game.

But in April, the Russian Premier League urged the media to refrain from jumping to conclusions on match-fixing whenever a shock result occurs.

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