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Sportsradar to aid AFC battle against Asian match-fixing

Referee Ali Sabbagh gestures during the AFC Cup soccer match between Kuwait's Al Qadsia and Yemen's Al Saqr in Kuwait City April 12, 2011. R
Referee Ali Sabbagh gestures during the AFC Cup soccer match between Kuwait's Al Qadsia and Yemen's Al Saqr in Kuwait City April 12, 2011. R

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation, blighted for years by a series of match-fixing scandals among its member associations, have struck a deal with Sportsradar to monitor betting practices on their tournaments to help prevent further fraud.

The partnership will see Sportsradar, who say they process 432 million odds movements per day at over 350 bookmakers in Asia and Europe, monitor matches at regional tournaments including the 2015 Asian Cup, AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.

The AFC Cup was targeted by fixers earlier this year with a Singapore Court jailing Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh for six months and his assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb for three months after they were found guilty of accepting sexual favors to rig a match.

AFC president Sheikh Saalman bin Al Khalifa made targeting match-fixing a chief priority after being elected in May.

"AFC's partnership with Sportradar is the latest step taken to counter the threat that match-fixing poses to football in Asia," AFC general secretary Alex Soosay said in a statement.

"We look forward to utilizing Sportradar's proven expertise in this field and developing an effective working partnership."

Sportsradar say they analyze over 53,000 matches each year and were instrumental in unearthing a match-fixing syndicate in Australia in October which led to four players and one official being banned worldwide by governing body FIFA.

Sportsradar already boast partnerships with football confederations UEFA and CONCACAF as well as the English Premier League, Bundesliga, the English and Australia Football Associations and Cricket Australia.

The AFC agreement comes in the wake of match-fixing scandals in China, South Korea, Lebanon, Singapore and Malaysia in recent years with accusations of further wrong doing in many more Asian nations.

Earlier this year, European police pointed the finger at the region when they announced a Singapore-based syndicate had directed match-fixing for at least 380 soccer games in Europe alone, making at least eight million euros ($10.8 million).

Better headlines came last month when law enforcement agency Interpol lauded Singapore authorities for arresting the 'mastermind and leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate' believed to be Singaporean Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan Tan.

(Reporting by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien)

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