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Player advocate rejects league push for acces -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: The AFL's (Australian Football League) push for access to phone taps to combat match-fixing threats has met stiff resistance from player representatives and civil liberties groups.

The league says organised crime groups pose a dire threat to the sport and it wants the police to share intelligence gathered from telephone intercepts with its integrity commission.

Among those opposing the idea is former Richmond Football Club board member and now the chief executive of soccer's Football Players Association, Brendan Schwab.

He spoke to our reporter, James Bennett.

BRENDAN SCHWAB: Player activists and player representatives have obvious concerns about sharing that information with sporting authorities which do not have the capability nor the mandate to deal with matters which would otherwise be criminal. And we do not want, at this point in time, to see a series of sporting prosecutions when everyone's focus should be on stopping match-fixing at its source. And its source is the betting syndicates and the relationship of those betting syndicates with organised crime.

And we really want to protect athletes form that because we have grave fears about the relationship between athletes and those criminal elements. And why do we have those concerns? Because of the devastating and the fatal examples that we've seen throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, and most recently in the Korean Reupblic.

JAMES BENNETT: The outgoing attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, has written a letter to the Victorian Premier Denis Napthine saying that essentially telephone intercept laws are as strict as they are for the purpose of protecting information, and ensuring that investigations aren't compromised. Is that a legitimate concern?


JAMES BENNETT: Do you think the AFL recognises that?

BRENDAN SCHWAB: I don't want to speculate on what the AFL's position is. What I am saying is from the perspective of the whole of sport, and from the perspective of the athletes, we have a policy; it should be implemented. And we should have everyone's attention focussed on solving this problem at its source, which are the betting syndicates, their possible relationship with organised crime, and we need to know the natural limitations which a sporting organisation has in what it can and cannot do.

JAMES BENNETT: That policy, you believe, gives authorities the ability to do what the AFL is saying it wants to do?

BRENDAN SCHWAB: There was an agreement reached two years ago between state and the Commonwealth attorneys-generals and the major sports, with the backing of the players associations, to have what is widely regarded as a world-class approach to match-fixing that makes match-fixing a crime. And it gives the policing authorities, as a result, the ability to prosecute those who start match-fixing: namely, the criminal elements.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: That's Brendan Schwab, the chief executive of soccer's Football Players Association, speaking there with reporter James Bennett.