Worldwide reputation of soccer taking a hit from match fixing

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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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145-c-17-(Sheila Norman-Culp, AP correspondent)-"it's more profitable"-AP correspondent Sheila Norman-Culp reports criminal groups are now deeply involved in soccer match-fixing, after shifting their focus from areas like drugs. (12 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *145 (02/12/13)>> 00:17 "it's more profitable"

144-c-17-(Sheila Norman-Culp, AP correspondent)-"countries without blinking"-AP correspondent Sheila Norman-Culp reports a former soccer professional says soccer is falling under a cloud of suspicion as never before. (12 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *144 (02/12/13)>> 00:17 "countries without blinking"

143-c-19-(Sheila Norman-Culp, AP correspondent)-"of amazing proportions"-AP correspondent Sheila Norman-Culp reports soccer is under threat of becoming the dirty game, as it's increasingly dogged by a multibillion-dollar web of match-fixing. (12 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *143 (02/12/13)>> 00:19 "of amazing proportions"

APPHOTO TDG105: FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 file photo Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble listens to journalist's questions during a press conference, in Rome. Soccer is falling under a cloud of suspicion as never before, sullied by a multibillion-dollar web of match-fixing that is staining increasingly larger parts of the world's most popular sport. FIFA bans include some elite figures in the sport. Gambling on sports generates hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and up to 90 percent of that is bet on soccer, Interpol chief Ronald Noble told the AP in an interview. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (17 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO TDG105 (01/17/13)>>

APPHOTO TDG104: FILE -- In this Oct. 29, 2011 file photo Juventus coach Antonio Conte gestures during the Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Juventus at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. Soccer is falling under a cloud of suspicion as never before, sullied by a multibillion-dollar web of match-fixing that is staining increasingly larger parts of the world's most popular sport. FIFA bans include some elite figures in the sport. Antonio Conte, coach of the Italian club Juventus — a team whose winning tradition rivals that of baseball's New York Yankees — returned in December after a fourth-month ban for failing to report match-fixing. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) (29 Oct 2011)

<<APPHOTO TDG104 (10/29/11)>>

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