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Match fixing could happen in Scotland says head of communications at players' union PFA Scotland

 

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According to the Scottish Daily Herald, Jack Ross, the head of communications at players' union PFA Scotland, admitted that it would be "naive" to think match fixing could not happen in Scotland following revelations that six members of an alleged betting syndicate have been arrested on the suspicion of arranging the outcome of English football matches.

An investigation by the Daily Telegraph discovered that fixers from Asia have been targeting matches across the country, in particular the English lower leagues. Two arrests with others set to follow have already been made in England - although the games involved have not been revealed.

According to the Herald, there is no evidence so far that suggests Scottish matches or players have been similarly targeted but the revelations have once more raised the possibility. PFA Scotland held a conference in St Andrews in August, as part of the Europe-wide Don't Fix It project, that tackled the growing problem of match fixing in sport. The hope is that education will be the most effective method of deterring Scottish players from succumbing to temptation but Ross admitted there is only so much that the various authorities can do.

"It would be extremely naive to think match fixing couldn't happen here, especially when you look at what happened across the border," he told Herald Sport. "We've repeated that message over the past 12 to 18 months. We're always being asked, 'are you confident there is nothing happening here?' and it is impossible for us to say for sure. You just don't know. What's happening in England shows that the globalisation of betting markets, and the huge sums of money involved, means almost everything is fair game. It's not just higher-profile games. In fact it's probably easier to have an influence on a game that's under the radar. Is there an environment in Scotland for match fixing to happen? Of course. That's why it's so vital to make sure we continue to try to prevent it.

"We've recognised the problem has grown and edged closer to western Europe. I don't think those of us who have been dealing with the topic for a while are that surprised that it's happened in England but it's still concerning, especially given our closeness to the game down south.

"We always felt and hoped that our football would be untainted and untouched by match fixing so we have to do our utmost to ensure that remains the case here. That's why we've been proactive in trying to put in place an appropriate education programme, not just for players but for anyone in the game who could be susceptible. We're making progress and the discussion and co-operation between the various bodies has been very encouraging."

Ross revealed PFA Scotland have been in dialogue with the Scottish Football Association about the best way for players approached by match fixers to blow the whistle. "Within the Dont Fix It project, one of the key questions has been what type of reporting mechanism works," Ross explained. "Who do they trust? How do they report it? Those aren't easy questions to answer. There has to be a real trust there. If players are approached, do they maybe not want to say anything because that immediately involves them in it? And if they don't disclose the approach do they then get in difficult further down the line? Those are the answers we need and, hopefully, soon we will have a practical solution."

LM

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