Organised criminals are preying upon football clubs, players and officials left vulnerable to corruption by the financial impact of Covid-19, Europe's crime agency has said.
Europol has held its first international conference on match-fixing with Uefa, the sport's administrative body in Europe.
It comes as concerns have been raised that the hardships caused by the pandemic could lead to an increased risk of fraudulent activity.
More than 100 professionals from 49 countries attended Tuesday's event to discuss the threats posed to the game.
Experts analysed ways to protect the integrity of football and fight organised crime groups.
Topics discussed included the importance of collaboration between law enforcement and football integrity officers to help detect suspicious betting patterns early.
Burkhard Muehl, head of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre, said the force had witnessed an increase in suspicious activity.
“Organised crime groups quickly understood that a lot of football clubs were suffering financially as a consequence of Covid-19 and where there is less money, players, coaches, officials and even club executives are increasingly vulnerable to being corrupted by fixers," he said.
“With the huge profits associated with 'making the unpredictable predictable', we are seeing more and more cases of match-fixing and suspicious results.
“Co-operation between law enforcement and sports organisations is vital to not only detect and investigate suspected corruption in football, but also to stop such fraudulent activities before they can even begin.”
The Europol-Uefa conference was held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.
Uefa’s managing director of Integrity and Regulatory, Angelo Rigopoulos, said the joint initiative was an important step in tackling the issue.
"This first joint Europol-Uefa international conference is an important step forward in the fight against match-fixing, and sends out a strong signal that both organisations are here to pool their forces and do their utmost to minimise this phenomenon," he said.
Uefa’s team of anti-match-fixing experts work on education, intelligence, investigation and co-operation with its network of 55 integrity officers to prevent any issues related to foul play and betting irregularities.
"Nowadays, more than ever before, European football and the law-enforcement sector need to remain united and offer their mutual support in seeking to protect our popular sport from this scourge, by co-operating in joint activities, implementing common projects and exchanging information in the area of match-fixing," said Vincent Ven, Uefa’s head of Anti-Match-Fixing.