FIFA's head of security has warned young footballers are being "trafficked" by gambling syndicates intent on fixing the outcome of matches.
Chris Eaton claims youngsters from "humble origins" are being targeted by criminals who help them earn deals with clubs in Europe and Latin America in return for their compliance in altering the outcome of games.
Eaton maintains that junior competitions are the breeding ground for the illicit recruitment, which he believes represents "a real and present danger to the sanctity and ethics of sport".
"It is a form of trafficking, in my view - trafficking for criminal purposes," Eaton told The Independent.
"It is only anecdotal evidence at this stage but it is clear. They [the match-fixers] often target people from humble origins.
"They will go to junior competitions and recruit families of players basically through the attraction of cash. 'I can get you a contract, or a game in Europe or in South America'.
"They will invest in the development of players and officials and then they expect payment - they want their cut.
"These people are criminals, they are organised.
"They are well-funded and have a long-term plan. They are a real and present danger to the sanctity and ethics of sport. I would not understate its seriousness."
FIFA, in tandem with Interpol, has already made moves to address the problem by exploring the idea of briefing players on the dangers of match-fixing before major tournaments.
"FIFA's primary task is to prevent match-fixing," Eaton continued.
"FIFA is redesigning its regulatory arrangements for international friendlies and competition matches, particularly in qualifiers. These are all capable of being abused by match-fixers.
"We need to arm federations with good due diligence skills - so they know whether these people arranging the matches are genuine.
"Prevention is the primary task. The second is to protect players and officials from the approach of criminals."