|By JOHN GRECO
Football Federation Australia chief executive officer David Gallop is confident football will not become embroiled in the match-fixing controversy despite a warning from a prominent police figure that the A-League is vulnerable to foreign crime syndicates.
Australia's major sporting codes were rocked on Thursday by revelations of drug use, match-fixing and the prevalence of organised crime in domestic sport.
While Gallop said the Australian Crime Commission's [ACC] report did not specifically relate in any way to football, he said there was no way the code would get complacent in stamping these issues out.
The biggest threat to football appears to be the potential for match-fixing in the A-League.
Victorian Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton voiced his concern over the "high risk" of match fixing in Australia, with a recent A-League match attracting more than $40million in bets from an Asian-based bookmaker.
"Any sport that is attracting significant betting offshore is at a major risk," Ashton said.
"The increasing betting pools mean that we need to take preventative action now to make these sports more resilient to this threat.
"This thing is coming down the highway and we have to be prepared."
But speaking alongside high-profile government and law enforcement officials and the heads of the nation's other major sports bodies on Thursday, the FFA chief said he was confident the A-League could withstand the threat of match-fixing.
"We must maintain vigilance in education, in making sure players are aware of penalties that can be imposed and in surveillance," Gallop said.
"You'd be aware that we've recently engaged an overseas agency to assist us with surveillance over football matches.
"It's simple to make the point but it's a good one. Where things are difficult to detect, the level of deterrents must be high.
"That's what we're dealing with here both in relationship to the doping issues and match fixing.
"We are vigilant about it. We have internal and external resources in place and we don't specifically have evidence at this stage. But we join the general concern and we're all too happy to be here supporting the government and the ACC."
Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou said he would be surprised if any A-League players or teams were involved in match-fixing but concedes the competition is vulnerable to dodgy bookmakers.
"We're talking about money and it can corrupt the most stable of environments," the Victory coach said.
"It's about vigilance, it's about making sure you don't get complacent, it's about constant education and understanding that even in the best environments and with the best intentions, if you get complacent or don't educate people there is potential there.
"And that's where [crime figures] prey on. All we can do is try and maintain our standards and keep a constant eye on what going on.
"There's no point being oblivious to it and saying 'it doesn't happen in our sport' because it's been proven that it happens and it happens in all sports, in all cultures and all walks of life."