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Monday 29 May 2017

'I saw no match-fixing in my playing days', says Ireland great Bonner

Packie Bonner at the Don’t Ignore The Red campaign launch
Packie Bonner at the Don’t Ignore The Red campaign launch

Former Ireland football star Packie Bonner has said that he never witnessed football players becoming involved in match-fixing during his playing days.

The retired goalkeeper, who was one of Ireland's crucial players during the Jack Charlton era, also described an investigation into Athlone Town AFC as "unfortunate".

Bonner added that Uefa will have a zero tolerance approach to any match-fixing.

"It can happen in any division, that's the point. These match-fixing situations, it's not the top teams," he said.

"I go to Uefa and listen to the guys do a presentation and it's amazing how they get into it. It's zero tolerance, and that's the way it should be.

"There's no place for it. Unfortunately it does happen, but very rarely.

"It's the first time I've ever heard of it in Ireland, Scotland or England but I'm sure it has happened in the past ."

Scandals

When asked if he was aware of such betting scandals in his playing days, Bonner said: "No, no absolutely not.

"Even betting now has become a big thing and people are made aware of the zero tolerance on that to a point.

"We didn't have enough knowledge around it. People did it, there's no question people went and put lines on and that, but match-fixing is a different thing.

"I've never seen anything, I've never seen anybody go down that road.

"I know guys gambled and stuff, that was prevalent in all society, but when it comes to these sort of things I've never seen it in all my days and I was a long, long time in the game."

The former Ireland and Celtic shot-stopper was speaking at the launch of the "Don't Ignore The Red" campaign, aiming to raise awareness of bladder cancer, which affects 450 Irish people every year.

Uefa and the FAI are currently investigating a number of SSE Airtricity League First Division games involving Athlone Town AFC.

Probe

Several players and staff members were interviewed last week as part of the probe.

The football club's board has called for separate investigations to be carried by An Garda Siochana and Europol, as well as other agencies.

Last night, Uefa said it would not be commenting any further on the alleged betting scandal as the investigation was ongoing.

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