- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

MOSCOW (AP) - Kazakhstan wants to crack down on match-fixing and corruption in football as it prepares to bid for the 2026 World Cup.

The Central Asian nation has long been dogged by accusations of match-fixing, with 34 percent of Kazakh players saying they had been approached by fixers in a 2012 survey by players’ union FIFPro. However, there have been no major disciplinary cases involving match-fixing in Kazakhstan in recent years.

Kazazkhstan soccer federation president Erlan Kozhagapanov said in statement Friday that he wants to “completely purge corruption from our football.”

“The fate of a fixture should be decided on the football pitch, not off it,” Kozhagapanov said, adding that the federation would watch referees “especially closely” and push for prosecutions if they were found to have acted corruptly.

Kozhagapanov’s predecessor, Adilbek Zhaksybekov, told local media in December that the country planned to bid for the 2026 World Cup.

One major obstacle for any Kazakh bid will be a FIFA regulation which prevents a country from hosting the World Cup if it is in the same region as either of the previous two hosts. Russia, the 2018 host, is a member of UEFA, the same confederation as Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh city of Almaty is a candidate to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, competing against Beijing.

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