PARIS (AFP) - The multi-billion dollar global football sector has become a vehicle for money laundering and other forms of corruption, requiring an international response, a study published Wednesday said.
"Money laundering through the football sector is revealed to be deeper and more complex than previously understood," said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body formed to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Paris-based group said its analysis found that "there is more than anecdotal evidence indicating that a variety of money flows and or financial transactions may increase the risk of money laundering through football."
The football sector has in addition provided opportunities for other criminal activities such as trafficking in human beings and drugs, according to the FATF.
Based on responses to a questionnaire received last October from government and football authorities in 25 countries, more than 20 cases of football-related money laundering were detected, the task force said.
The cases ranged from the smuggling of large amounts of cash derived from apparently illegal transactions to more complex operations.
"Investments in football clubs can be used to integrate money of illegal origin in the financial system," the study found. "Football clubs are indeed seen by criminals as the perfect vehicles for money laundering."
Football since the early 1990s has undergone massive commercialisation through expanded television rights and corporate ownership. Player transfer payments have now reached "astounding dimensions," the study said.