Blatter upbeat on pro referees

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The Independent Online

The Fifa President, Sepp Blatter, yesterday stepped up his campaign for professional referees by claiming such a move would help prevent corruption involving match officials.

The Fifa President, Sepp Blatter, yesterday stepped up his campaign for professional referees by claiming such a move would help prevent corruption involving match officials.

Blatter believes that if referees stand to lose their job it is more of a deterrent than if they officiate as amateurs. He was speaking in Zurich following a meeting of Fifa's executive committee which was dominated by the German match-fixing scandal. The German referee Robert Hoyzer has been charged with eight cases of complicity to defraud after admitting he accepted money from gamblers to fix matches.

Blatter said: "If someone is not refereeing in professional football as an amateur but as a professional himself, he will think again because of the possibility of losing his profession.

"Human beings are human beings and they will always be open to temptations. We just have to try and reduce these temptations.

"In our game, as in every other game, people try to gain an advantage. If there's evidence that even one referee is involved in corruption, that is painful. We have to ensure that situations as in Germany are not repeated."

Fifa's executive committee have voiced their total support for the way the German Football Association is handling the investigation of match-fixing in the country.

It has also instructed Fifa's ethics and fair play committee to draw up a list of steps that could be taken to prevent further corruption. One idea the ethics committee will look at is whether it is practical to only appoint referees the day before a match takes place.

Blatter said that South Korea will host the 2007 Under-17 World Championships, which will now involve 24 teams instead of the current 16.

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