Three Lebanese match officials were taken into custody in Singapore on Wednesday on charges of match fixing, just hours before they were supposed to officiate in an AFC Cup match between hosts Tampines Rovers and East Bengal at the Jalan Besar stadium.
Referee Ali Sabbagh and assistant-referees Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were dropped from officia-ting and were helping the count-ry’s Corrupt Practices Investigati-on Bureau (CPIB) with their enq-uiries, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said. They were replaced by two Malaysian and a Thai official who conducted the match East Bengal won 4-2.
“Singapore and FAS have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to match fixing and football corruption,” the Singapore federation said in a statement released shortly before the match. The CPIB, a Singapore government law-enforcement body that is separate from the regular police, confirmed it had spoken with the three officials.
Andrew Barisic scored a brace and Edeh Chidi scored the other after East Bengal were given the lead in the 19th minute by an own goal by Anaz Hadee. The team were locked 1-1 at half time after Tampines Rovers Serbian recruit Sead Hadzibulic equalised in the 28th minute. Khairul Amri scored the other goal for the hosts. The win took East Bengal to the top of the group H table with seven points from three matches and kept alive their hopes of making it to the knockout stages.
Incidentally, on the eve of East Bengal’s home match against Malaysian club Selangor in the same competition in February, the visitors had their Lebanese defender Ramez Dayoub banned for life by the Lebanese FA for alleged match-fixing. He was among 24 Lebanese players who had been charged with influencing results of the national team. Dayoub had trained briefly with East Bengal in 2009 but couldn’t join because of a contractual dispute.
In February, European anti-crime agency Europol said hundreds of football matches were fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore. It identified some 680 suspicious matches, including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championship, and for Europe’s Champions League.