On Tuesday – I spoke at the European Parliament in Brussels for a committee of politicians and European Commission bureaucrats. This is a summary of my remarks.
I am looking for an honest, courageous European politician.
Here is why.
The one consistent theme in the match-fixing scandals across European football – from Finland to Germany to Austria to Hungary to Italy to Greece to Slovakia to the Czech Republic - is that match-fixers from one of four Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia - have helped fixed matches.
To be completely clear: their criminals have come to our countries and fixed our sports.
I mean no disrespect to the people of the Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia. They have created superb societies. However, their governments are failing to stop their criminals from traveling around the world helping to ruin our sports.
A message must be sent to the governments of these countries: arrest your criminals or you are not welcome in international sports.
The European Union has financed all kinds of expensive anti-match-fixing education programs.
European police forces have arrested many of the European players and fixers.
The governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have contented themselves in playing public relations games.
The Singaporeans recently arrested one of their major match-fixers not as a fixer, but as a terrorist. Thereby stopping him from testifying publicly to the full potential extent of his network.
This nonsense has to stop.
The best way to stop this nonsense is for a European politician to join me on the podium and to publicly urge the Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai governments to properly investigate the fixers in their countries, arrest them and then put them on public trial.
This is the same situation that European sport found itself in during the 1980s, when English football hooligans rampaged across the continent. Finally in 1985 after 39 Juventus fans were killed here in Brussels, European authorities said to England, ‘No offense to your country, no offense to your football, no offense to the average Englishman – but the problem of hooliganism is largely your problem. You are not welcome in our sport until you clean it up.’
Fair play to the English they largely did. Five years later, English football teams were allowed back into Europe. There is still the odd, isolated case of hooliganism (as there will be with fixing), but the problem is much better than it was in the dark days of the 1980s. After all, who better to arrest English football hooligans than English policemen?
Who better to investigate Asian match-fixers than Asian police?
If Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia do not take credible, transparent steps to convict match-fixers then they should be politely asked not to participate in international sports. The International Olympic Committee, FIFA and other sporting bodies should be urged to suspend these countries until they stop their criminals from fixing international sports.
I began today’s remarks by asking for a courageous European politician. Actually, I do not think much courage is needed. For voters to finally hear the truth spoken about the scandals infecting European sport, would be extremely popular. For voters to finally hear that match-fixing in football can largely be beaten, would be extremely popular. For voters to finally hear that there is a European politician who cares about sport to risk some controversy, would be extremely popular.
I am looking for an honest, courageous European politician. European fans are waiting for an honest, courageous European politician. European sport needs an honest, courageous European politician.
Next week - more on what it is in the new book (and why you should buy it!), plus fresh revelations of the strange politics of the anti-match-fixing industry.