Fri, Nov 29, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Police round up six in English soccer match-fixing probe

AP, LONDON

Police have made six arrests as part of an investigation into a suspected international betting syndicate which allegedly fixed English soccer matches, authorities said on Wednesday.

The arrests follow an undercover investigation by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, which reported that at least three of the men held this week are soccer players.

The paper said the alleged fixer who was arrested on Tuesday is “internationally known” and arrived in England last week.

The paper’s Web site published a covertly recorded video in which it says the fixer claimed matches could be fixed for £50,000 (US$81,380).

It appears the games at risk were at levels no higher than the Football Conference — the fifth tier of the sport in England.

Premier League matches are not reported to be under investigation and the Football League, which runs the three professional divisions below the Premier League, said it had not been contacted by police.

The English Football Association is working with Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on the investigation.

At meetings in Manchester this month, the Telegraph said one of the alleged fixers — a Singaporean man — correctly predicted how many goals would be scored during a match the next day and offered to manipulate two British matches this month.

The man told the paper’s investigator in a video that he would say to a soccer player: “You tell me how many goals you can give.”

“Either 3-2, 4-1 or zero,” he added in broken English. “I say I don’t need five. For me four is enough ... if more than that up to you. But my deal is four ... I don’t want less than four.”

The alleged fixer is heard claiming he has a betting Web site, saying: “We can bet [on] those goals.”

He also claims he can pay a player about £5,000 to ensure he is booked in the first 10 minutes of a match, an indication that the game is being fixed.

The alleged fixer said he was connected with Wilson Raj Perumal, the Singaporean who was sentenced to two years in prison in Finland in 2011 for bribing players in the Finnish soccer league.

Match-fixing is a growing blight in soccer, with investigations across the globe raising concerns about the integrity of the sport.

“Everyone really knew that match fixing is endemic in football,” Chris Eaton, the former head of security for FIFA, said yesterday.

“And in this [alleged] case there is nothing new in terms of the corrupting method, its internationality or in the core betting fraud purpose. What is new is that it shocks England, the home of the game,” he added.

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