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No evidence of match-fixing at Gold Cup, says CONCACAF

Chuck Blazer and Ricardo Teixera attend the 61st FIFA congress at the Hallenstadion in Zurich
Chuck Blazer and Ricardo Teixera attend the 61st FIFA congress at the Hallenstadion in Zurich

By Simon Evans

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - CONCACAF closely studied several games at the current Gold Cup tournament after being tipped off about unusual betting patterns but found no evidence of abnormal behavior, general secretary Chuck Blazer told reporters on Saturday.

There were several high-scoring games in the opening group stages of the competition and media reports in Germany had suggested that three games were under suspicion following reports of unusual betting activity in Asia.

"Early on we were aware of comments made by a party in Europe, who believed that certain games were potentially targets in this competition," Blazer told a news conference before the Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

"We tracked those (games), we found that there were no significant anomalies and when we analyzed the games overall, found that they were pretty consistent with both history, as far as the results, and we didn't find any unusual patterns.

"There was nothing that was out of sync with what reasonable expectations would have been. We had no reason to find that there was anything of greater concern," he said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter last month pledged 20 million euros ($29 million) for a dedicated anti-corruption unit based in Singapore to fight match-fixing.

The unit, in a partnership with Interpol, aims to develop a programme for soccer officials, players and administrators that warns against match-fixing and alerts them to its dangers.

Blazer said CONCACAF, which governs soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean but has been rocked by infighting and bribery allegations against its members in recent months, was playing its part in the fight against match-fixing.

"We are concerned about the problem in general and are working together with FIFA now as they are beginning with new steps to educate and make teams alert to when these potentials may be occurring and to learn how to deal with it.

"It's very difficult because we don't have any direct authority, we aren't a police force and we have to utilize local police forces where necessary if we suspect this of happening," he said.

Blazer declined to discuss details of the current investigation into bribery allegations and the Caribbean.

He defended CONCACAF's actions in allowing Mexico to replace five players who were pulled out of the Gold Cup after returning positive doping tests before the Gold Cup.

Blazer said the decision had been "done by the book" and made only after an informed opinion from FIFA on the issue.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)