Match-fixing probe begins
Soccer’s ruling body is investigating claims that more than 300 matches on three continents were influenced by match-fixers, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported yesterday. FIFA suspects match officials were paid as little as US$10,000 to help engineer specific results in international friendly matches and European club games, netting fixers hundreds of millions of dollars on Asian betting markets. “Interviews with those involved have told us that fixers can spend upwards of [US]$300,000 to stage a friendly international and they do that with the expectation of a significant profit margin,” Chris Eaton, FIFA’s head of security, told the newspaper. Matches under suspicion include club games in Germany and Finland, Europa League fixtures and friendly internationals involving Kuwait, Jordan, Bolivia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.
Fans charge field in protest
Slavia Prague suffered a new setback on Thursday when angry fans, demanding answers to the team’s spiraling financial crisis, brought a cup match to a halt. The referee stopped the tie against Sigma Olomouc when hundreds of supporters, who fear their team will be kicked out of the domestic league championship next season, charged onto the pitch. Some supporters smashed their way into the VIP areas, where they clashed with riot police. “You are protecting the thieves,” fans screamed at police. Slavia’s players have not been paid since the start of the year, while about 4.6 million euros (US$6.7 million) is believed to be owed to the club’s former owners.
Juve keep Del Piero
Veteran forward Alessandro Del Piero on Thursday signed a one-year contract extension with Juventus keeping him at the club next season. Del Piero, 36, has been at Juve since 1993, winning five Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and the Champions League in 1996. He also won the 2005 and 2006 titles with the club, but they were stripped of those and relegated after being found guilty of match-fixing, allowing Del Piero to add the Serie B crown to his collection in 2007. He played 91 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals and was part of the squad that lifted the World Cup in 2006.
Correa to stay if relegated
Nancy coach Pablo Correa, who announced he was leaving the club at the end of March, said on Thursday he would stay if the club were relegated to the second division. “I never imagined leaving the club in Ligue 2,” the Uruguayan said in an interview with RMC radio station. “If, unfortunately, we go down, I’ll look at that again with the president [Jacques Rousselot]. I know what I owe the president, the club.” Nancy are currently one point from safety in Ligue 1.
Real urges Barca probe
Real Madrid on Thursday asked UEFA to reconsider their decision not to investigate the behavior of Barcelona’s players during the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. UEFA’s disciplinary panel on Monday rejected Real’s claim that Barcelona’s players were guilty of provocation during their 2-0 win at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday last week, in which the hosts’ midfielder Pepe was sent off. Real also appealed against Pepe’s dismissal, for a foul on Dani Alves, but UEFA upheld the referee’s decision to show him a straight red card. UEFA’s appeals panel is next scheduled to sit on May 16.