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Richard Kingson

Soccer struggles to control match-fixing as billions flow into the pockets of organized crime

Soccer is falling under a cloud of suspicion as never before, sullied by a multibillion-dollar web of match-fixing that is corrupting increasingly larger parts of the world's most popular sport.Internet betting, emboldened criminal gangs and even the economic downturn have created conditions that make soccer — or football, as the sport is called around the world — a lucrative target.Known as "the beautiful game" for its grace, athleticism and traditions of fair play, soccer is under threat of becoming a dirty game."Football is in a disastrous state," said Chris Eaton, director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security. "Fixing of matches for criminal gambling fraud purposes is absolutely endemic worldwide ... arrogantly happening daily."___EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a months-long, multiformat AP examination of how organized crime is corrupting soccer through match-fixing, running over four days this week.___At least 50 nations in 2012 had match-fixing ...

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