Friendlies prior to 2010 World Cup rigged: FIFA report

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jun 02, 2014 02:01 IST

At least five international friendlies played in South Africa before the 2010 Soccer World Cup were rigged by match-fixers working through bribed referees and pliant officials.

They even tried to fix a championship game, said the New York Times on Saturday, citing a confidential investigative report by FIFA, the world body.

The fixers were ready to kill anyone who didn't cooperate.

There were no allegations, however, against any players, as has been the case in every instance of match-fixing in cricket, including the one rocking New Zealand lately.

These FIFA revelations reinforce long-standing concerns about match-fixing afflicting world soccer, and cast a shadow over the World Cup starting in Brazil on June 12.

Most fixed bets are taken either on the outcome of the match or the aggregate of goals scored by both sides, and are placed mostly through unregulated markets.

In one of the rigged friendlies, South Africa beat Guatemala 5-0, through questionable penalties awarded by the referee, a native of Niger, who has denied the allegations.

The referee was working for a Singapore-based company fronting for the fixers and had deposited $100,000 (Rs 59 lakh) in a bank hours before the game, according to the Fifa report.

The report named Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean, as the mastermind, which he confirmed in his memoir 'Kelong Kings' (Kelong is Malay for betting).

But he doesn't run the syndicate. It's run by a man who was once mentored by an Indian-descent Singaporean, Perumal claimed in published interviews.

Football 4 U, the front company, infiltrated South Africa's financially struggling soccer body with an offer to provide and host referees for the international friendlies before the cup.

The offer was accepted and the company landed five matches. The FIFA report called South African soccer officials "either easily duped or extremely foolish".

Perumal said in his memoir that referees and their teams, such as the one from Niger, were paid anything between $60,000 (Rs 35 lakh) and $75,000 (Rs 44 lakh) for every rigged game.

The syndicate walked away with $4-5 million (Rs 2.3-2.9 crore) from the friendlies it rigged, according to Perumal, who was arrested a few months later in Finland.

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