Indian-owned club Blackburn Rovers striker D J Campbell has been arrested as part of a football spot-fixing investigation, the club has confirmed. The 32-year-old is one of six persons detained in an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after it acted on information passed to it by the 'Sun on Sunday' newspaper.
In a statement, Blackburn said, "Following reports in today's national media, Blackburn Rovers can confirm that striker Campbell has been arrested. "The club will be making no further comment on what is now an ongoing legal matter," said the Championship club owned by Pune-based Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group.
The tabloid reported that an undercover investigator met former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje, who allegedly said he could arrange for footballers in the Championship (second tier) to get themselves a yellow card in return for tens of thousands of pounds. The 34-year-old claimed he could rig Premier League games and even said he was preparing to fix matches at next year's World Cup in Brazil, the newspaper reported.
It also alleged that Oldham player Cristian Montano failed to get a yellow card in return for money in a match against Wolves on October 22 and offered to take part in another rigging incident. In today's edition of 'The Sun', it was reported that Campbell was arrested on Sunday, a day after he came on as a substitute against Queens Park Rangers in Rovers' Championship game.
The newspaper claimed that detectives were likely to review a yellow card he received for a tackle committed in the first half of Blackburn's league game against Ipswich last Tuesday. London-born Campbell began his professional career at Brentford and went on to play in the Premier League for three clubs -- Birmingham, Blackpool and QPR.
He signed for Blackburn in July after previously joining the club on loan from QPR last February. Detectives from the NCA were still questioning the six men this morning. One of the suspects was reported to be Sodje's brother Akpo, 33, who plays for Tranmere. The League One club said, "Tranmere Rovers Football Club are aware of Sunday newspaper allegations regarding Akpo Sodje.
"As this is an ongoing investigation, the club will make no further comment at this time." Responding to the claims about Sam Sodje, Portsmouth spokesman Colin Farmery said, "If these serious allegations are true, then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.
"The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would co-operate fully with any inquiry." Oldham said in a statement, "Oldham Athletic Football Club has been made aware of the incident and allegation surrounding one of its players, Cristian Montano. The club will commence an immediate internal investigation to establish all the relevant facts of the case.
"The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot comment on specific facts at this stage. The club will not be issuing any further statements at this time." An NCA spokeswoman said, "An active NCA investigation is now under way and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission. "Six people are in custody and are being questioned by NCA officers.
We cannot comment further at this stage." The NCA is already carrying out a separate investigation into an alleged international illegal betting syndicate. Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were charged last week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law. The pair, who played for Conference South club Whitehawk FC in Brighton, were dismissed by their club and will appear in court on Wednesday.
Two other men, Chann Sankaran, 33, from Hastings, East Sussex, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, from Singapore, were charged last month with plotting to defraud bookmakers and will also appear in court this week. Speaking about the latest reports, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said, "We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness."
In a statement, the Football Association said, "The FA is aware of the National Crime Agency investigation and is working closely with the NCA and other authorities. We will make no further comment at this time." A Gambling Commission spokesman said, "The Gambling Commission has responded quickly in supporting this ongoing National Crime Agency investigation and continues to liaise with both the NCA and the Football Association."
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said, "These allegations, if proven, unfortunately demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the game in educating players of these risks.
"We take the issue of integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this evil from our game. "In terms of these specific reports, due to the ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency, we are unable to comment further at this time."