2010 match-fixing casts shadow on FIFA World Cup

In all, fixers manipulated "at least five matches and possibly more" in South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup and targeted up to 15 matches

New York: A confidential FIFA report raises concerns about World Cup match-fixing vulnerabilities just 12 days before the global football showdown kicks off in Brazil, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper obtained a copy of the 44-page internal report over incidents from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by football’s world governing body and other related documents raising issues of bettors influencing outcomes and referee honesty.

In a report on the newspaper’s website, the Times interviewed officials, referees, gamblers and others in South Africa, England, Malaysia, Singapore and Finland looking into issues that could compromised the showcase event for FIFA, which is expected to receive about $4 million in revenue for sponsor deals, television rights and ticket sales from this year’s World Cup.

“Were the listed matches fixed? On the balance of probabilities, yes,” the previously unpublicised FIFA report said, according to the newspaper.

Fixing and death threats
A match-rigging betting syndicate whose referees fixed exhibition matches and exploited them even made a death threat after one match against an official who tried to stop the fix, according to the Times. In one cited example, Niger referee Ibrahim Chaibou brought a bag with thousands of dollars in $100 bills into a bank and made suspect hand ball calls later that night in an exhibition match between South Africa and Guatemala in May of 2010 at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, according to another referee.

Chaibou, who denied fixing a match to the newspaper and who has since retired, was chosen for the match by a Singapore company — Football 4U International — that is a front for a match-rigging group, according to the FIFA report, the Times said.

Friendly fix
In all, fixers manipulated “at least five matches and possibly more” in South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup and targeted up to 15 matches, including a US-Australia fixture, according to the FIFA report obtained by the newspaper. Such warm-up exhibitions for this year’s World Cup are being played this week.

A FIFA spokesman told the Times that a probe into activities around the 2010 World Cup was ongoing, but no punishments or bans have been imposed.

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