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FIFA match-fixing probe into 6 officials

football Updated: Mar 10, 2011 21:08 IST

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FIFA launched match-fixing disciplinary proceedings today against six match officials suspected of helping manipulate two international games in a betting scam.

Football's governing body said the games were the Bolivia vs Latvia and Estonia vs Bulgaria friendlies played in the Turkish city of Antalya on Feb 9.

"The proceedings were opened following an evaluation of all documentation and information received by FIFA, in relation to a possible match-fixing situation in these matches," FIFA said in a statement.

FIFA said no date has been set for its disciplinary committee to hear the cases.

Privacy rules meant FIFA would not the identify the officials or their nationality, it said.

Last month, Hungary's football federation said it had suspended officials Kolos Lengyel, Krisztian Selmeczi and Janos Csak for handling the Estonia vs Bulgaria game without permission.

Suspicions were raised when all seven goals in the two matches were scored from penalty kicks, as Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1 and Estonia and Bulgaria played out a 2-2 draw. One of the penalties was ordered to be retaken after the initial spot kick was missed.

The games were played in a near-empty Antalya stadium with meager television coverage, adding to concerns that organisers intended to profit from placing bets on fixed outcomes.

German magazine Stern reported yesterday that data obtained from betting operators showed at least USD 6.9 million was wagered on the Estonia vs Bulgaria match.

Officials from all four national teams complained to FIFA which asked the federations for help in its investigation. The games were organised, and the match officials chosen, by a Thailand-based agency called Footy Sport International which used a FIFA-licensed agent from Russia to arrange the doubleheader.

FIFA rules state that only authorised agents can arrange games between teams from different continents.

National teams often use agencies to arrange friendly matches and are free to choose their opponents and play in a neutral country.

The affair has prompted FIFA to propose that organisers must give two months' notice of referee appointments for international matches involving national or club teams, and that it would veto suspect assignments.

"There will be new regulations for these international matches which are mostly ... organised only for betting reasons," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said last Thursday after a meeting of his executive committee.