Asian Match Fixer Jailed as Football Scandals Spread

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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A Singapore man has been sentenced to two years in jail for bribing football (soccer) players in the Finnish football league, as international match-fixing scandals continue to spread and investigators point to organized crime networks based in Southeast Asia.

Tuesday's verdict in Helsinki against Wilson Raj Perumal and nine Finnish players is the latest example of what investigators say is the far-reaching influence of crime syndicates based in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia.

The security director for football's international governing body FIFA told the Associated Press that the case marks a breakthrough in the global fight against match fixing. He said information provided by Perumal has helped “piece together” evidence of conspiracies to fix matches in Africa, eastern Europe and Central and South America.

A court statement said Perumal's scam involved bribing seven Zambian and two Georgian players — all of whom played in the Finnish league. It also noted his cooperation with investigators.

In May, FIFA signed a $20 million landmark deal with Interpol creating an investigative unit based in Singapore to root out game rigging in Asia.

In an analysis this week, the New York Times lists key investigations underway worldwide — including a South Korean probe involving 55 players indicted since June in the country's largest ever game-fixing scandal. Ten of the players received lifetime bans.

In Turkey, more than 30 players, coaches and club officials were jailed last week on game-fixing charges. One club said last week it would return the 2010 Turkish Cup until its deputy chairman and coach are cleared of charges they fixed the tournament's final match and other games.

The Zimbabwe Football Association released a report last week detailing game fixing from 2007 to 2010, in which players on tour were allegedly paid $1,000 a game to lose by pre-arranged scores.

Analysts say the scandals in East Asia are becoming so pervasive they are eroding fan support in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam, as well as South Korea and China.