Football: AFC offers support in major graft probe

Asian football's governing body offered its support Wednesday to an investigation by European police into a massive world-wide match-fixing scandal.

European police announced on Monday that they had uncovered a massive global match-rigging network that targeted hundreds of professional games, drawing in players, referees and other officials.

Police have said a crime syndicate in Singapore was liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe, with match-fixing having taken place in 15 countries, and 50 people arrested so far.

The Asian Football Confederation, based in neighbouring Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, said it was "fully prepared" to support institutions in the fight against corruption, although no organisation has yet made "formal contact" on the matter.

"We are closely following the news reports which have suggested that Asia is one of the continents where the suspicious matches took place," said Alex Soosay, the body's general secretary.

"AFC has a zero-tolerance policy towards unethical practices in football, and we are determined to fight against any kind of irregularities that include... match-fixing, corruption and illegal betting in the game."

Europol has been investigating for 18 months and said World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, plus Champions League and several top matches in European leagues have been affected.

The AFC is co-hosting a two-day conference, together with FIFA and Interpol, later this month in Kuala Lumpur on training, education and prevention of match-fixing and corruption.

The body will elect a new leader in May after its head, Mohamed bin Hammam, resigned in December amid allegations of bribery and other misdeeds.

The Qatari businessman has denied accusations he tried to buy votes to challenge powerful FIFA boss Sepp Blatter in the world governing body's 2011 presidential vote.