By Tony Attwood
It is time for the Africa Cup of Nations to be played in South Africa. It is also time when world-wide match fixing ought to be reaching the headlines.
To their credit a few papers do mention it, but by and large they prefer to carry on talking up the home nations, and ignoring what is really happening.
Even Fifa isn’t quite as naive as their own report on match-fixing prior to the last World Cup found compelling evidence that at least one, and probably more games involving South Africa in the weeks before the world cup were fixed.
The situation seems to be that South African FA were directly linked to Wilson Perumal and companies such as Football4U and Footy Media. The company is now seen as a front for Asian betting syndicates. Mr Perumal is now under arrest having been found in a restaurant in Finland, talking to players.
Fifa referees were seemingly “persuaded” by Football4U to throw games. Other members of the South African FA were implicated.
As Untold regularly reports there are match-fixing issues in China, Italy, South Korea. Now in addition to the list we can add South Africa and Zimbabwe – the latter again involving Perumal.
The President of the South African FA, plus five officials are now on voluntary leave of absence
Mr Chaibou, the ref who was involved in many incidents seems to have gone into hiding. He was the man who refereed a game that was supposedly Bahrain against Togo except that the team put out to play were not Togo at all – although their coach was there. On that occasion the ref had to keep disallowing goals (so awful was non-Togo) to keep the score at the pre-arranged level. In another incident a non-game (Turkmenistan under 21s against the Maldives) was fixed, and the result duly sent to bookmakers.
The key fact is that the way these matches are fixed is simplicity itself, and that it goes on and on. When one person is picked up, another takes over.
One might almost say that the really bad match fixing using awful refs and betting patterns that can be easily spotted are there to be caught, so that the real match fixing can go on day by day, in the belief that Fifa has caught the crooks.
Real match fixing by refs is subtle – aided greatly by the fact that TV companies covering matches use commentators who themselves don’t know the rules of the game and who refuse even to mention the notion that something untoward is going on.
What’s more, the fixation with betting patterns means that focus is always taken away from the fixing of refs by clubs. Fixing matches for gambling purposes is difficult, because usually the exact result needs to occur for a pay out. When football clubs fix matches all they are looking for is a win, or second best, a draw.
There seems to be a feeling in the media that there is no real solution, and that managers make matters worse by complaining about ref decisions. But that is not it at all. It is the organisations that run football which at every level are corrupt and fail to deal with this, just as they fail to deal with racism and homophobia in football.
The shame is with Fifa and with every organisation that belongs to Fifa. I have never suggested that the FA in England is involved in match fixing or ref fixing, but by remaining part of Fifa, they are associated with the crooks.
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