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Football is safe, insists Michael

London: Michael Owen has insisted that the match-fixing scourge that is threatening to undermine football is not a big problem.

Owen is convinced that the issue remains on a small scale despite the recent series of allegations that have ensured the biggest such scandal in this country for decades.

Speaking in Afghanistan at the launch of a tie-up between the Afghan and English football associations, Owen played down the storm and believes that the controversy has been blown out of proportion.

He said: “It’s strong words, match-fixing. When someone says match-fixing to me I automatically think of 22 players fixing the result of a match, when as far as I know there’s been a couple of people that have tried to get booked or sent off or something. Football is safe... I don’t think that really constitutes a huge rigging of the game, even though it’s wrong, the headlines have probably inflamed what was something that was wrong, but is not necessarily people colluding at the highest levels to rig games.

“The headlines have been pretty damaging for what is not something of huge significance.”