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AIFF may approach police after Minerva Punjab FC report I-League fixing attempt

All India Football Federation (AIFF) praised I-League leaders Minerva Punjab FC players for promptly flagging a fixing approach and might seek the help of the police if required.

football Updated: Jan 18, 2018 19:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
All India Football Federation,Minerva Punjab FC,I-League
A Minerva Punjab FC player was approached for fixing I-League games via Facebook. (AIFF)

If there is a silver lining to the approach made to fix I-League games this term, it is how promptly Minerva Punjab FC have flagged it. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will now alert the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and, if required, seek the police’s help.

“We may approach the police but first, we need to find out whether the offers were made from within the country,” said Javed Siraj, the AIFF’s integrity officer who was appointed in 2014 in accordance with Fifa guidelines.

Minerva Punjab FC, leaders in the I-League with 22 points from nine games, have also informed the AFC that an Indian and a foreign footballer on their roster were approached with baits of Rs 30 lakh to fix I-League games.

“The club used the (recently launched) AFC’s Integrity app to do that. We will inform the AFC separately,” said Siraj, over the phone from New Delhi on Thursday.

Siraj said the AIFF conducts workshops before every season with emphasis on three Rs --- Recognise, Reject and Report. Siraj and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar also praised Minerva Punjab FC players and the club for their reaction. “This is the first time such an incident has been brought to our notice,” said Dhar, also speaking from New Delhi.

Once an official complaint is made by the club, the AIFF will take the matter forward, said Siraj.

On Thursday, Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj said: “The Indian player received a call on Tuesday night and, after a general discussion on the season, the caller asked him whether he is open to fixing a match for Rs 30 lakh.

“The player blocked the number immediately and we informed both AIFF and AFC. The foreign player was approached via Facebook. The person at the other end offered a similar sum to fix a match. We have the screen shots and other details, all of which have been shared.”

“I don’t want to name the players as it will bring unnecessary scrutiny on them in the middle of the season. Maybe after I hear from the AIFF and AFC, I will give the names in a week or so,” he said.

In 2013, Mumbai FC had mentioned an attempt by bookies to reach their footballers but, according to Dhar, the matter wasn’t reported to the AIFF.

Bajaj said the relatively low salaries of footballers in India could make them soft targets. “Ideally, I would like to lodge an FIR but I will have to wait and see how the AIFF and AFC react,” he said.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 19:32 IST