Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned that a “tsunami” of match-fixing could engulf football if something is not done soon.
The Frenchman has called for the most severe sanctions for those that partake in the crime and revealed he always suspected cheating of some sort was widespread in football.
The Gunners boss was speaking ahead of the Emirates Stadium outfit’s trip to Sunderland on Saturday for their next Premier League fixture when the conversation turned to match-fixing.
Europol recently released figures claiming hundreds of fixtures were under investigation for suspicion of match-fixing., something that surprised Wenger.
“I was completely surprised by the number of games that were revealed to have been fixed and for me this is a real tsunami (for football),” he said.
Wenger then revealed he has long had suspicions that cheating was rife in football and feels the game’s governing bodies are not prioritising it enough.
"I cannot accept this. I was always a believer that there is a lot of cheating in the game and that we are not strong enough on what is happening,” he added.
“First doping, then the corruption of referees and now match-fixing. It is time we tackled these issues and people who cheat need to be punished in a very severe way.
“Sport is full of legends who are, in fact, cheats and we had a recent example of that. We all have a responsibility to fight against that.”
Wenger feels fans going to matches are the biggest victims of corruption as the very nature of the sport and the support of their team is undermined.
“You cannot accept that someone who works a whole week to get the money to go to a game and you cheat him because all is decided before he gets to the stand. I cannot stand up for that and I cannot accept that.”
The Europol report revealed that two Champions League matches played in England were investigated for match-fixing.