Blackburn striker Campbell nabbed in fixing probe

English football faced renewed concerns about match-fixing

Monday after Blackburn striker D.J. Campbell was identified as one

of six people arrested in the second police investigation into

rigged games opened inside two weeks.

Campbell is one of two former Premier League players arrested

after British newspaper The Sun uncovered alleged spot-fixing –

where minor elements of a game are rigged – in the professional

leagues. That follows another newspaper investigation by the Daily

Telegraph, which led to non-league players being charged.

The latest probe is seemingly more serious, as it involves games

as high up as the second-tier League Championship, and with claims

by one player that he could even help rig Premier League

matches.

”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,” the Professional

Footballers’ Association said. ”We take the issue of integrity

very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this

evil from our game.”

Campbell has previously played in the topflight for Birmingham,

Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers. He’s been playing for Blackburn

in the League Championship season, and the club confirmed

Campbell’s arrest on its website but said it was prevented from

commenting further because it is an ongoing legal matter.

The main allegations don’t center on players affecting the

results of a game, but rather on things like deliberately earning

yellow cards. Many bookmakers allow people to bet on whether a

certain player will be booked.

The Sun reported that officers were likely to look at a yellow

card Campbell received for a tackle committed in the first half of

Blackburn’s game against Ipswich on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, former Portsmouth and Nigeria

defender Sam Sodje claimed he could fix Premier League games and

was capable of rigging matches at next year’s World Cup.

Sodje, who played in the Premier League for Reading, also

allegedly told an undercover reporter that a player deliberately

sought to get booked in a recent League Championship match in

return for a 30,000-pound payout.

Sodje, who presented himself as a fixer, also told the reporter

that he was once sent off on purpose for a fee of 70,000

pounds.

The allegations alarmed his former club, with Portsmouth

announcing it would be summoning its players to a meeting on

Tuesday to warn them about the threat posed by fixers.

”All you can do is check the people around you, notice anything

suspicious and inform the players how serious an issue this is,”

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin said. ”We will be doing

that tomorrow as a club, speaking to the players and saying we have

to be self-policing.

”If anyone sees or hears anything suspicious it’s not a case of

dropping a friend in it, it’s about upholding the integrity of the

sport. Things like this need to be dealt with internally. The

people who will root this out are the players, the managers and the

people within football.”

At least one League One player is also under investigation, with

Oldham confirming Cristian Montano had been arrested and suspended

by the club.

Montano tried to get booked in exchange for a payment in a

League One match in October, according to The Sun.

”Anybody who saw that Sky News report will have been devastated

and sick to their stomachs,” Oldham manager Lee Johnson said on

the club’s website, referring to television coverage. ”However, we

have to let the authorities do their job and duties, and we cannot

prejudice that.”

Britain’s National Crime Agency has not identified any of the

people arrested, but said Monday that all six men had been released

on bail until April.

”The NCA can confirm that the Sun on Sunday has passed material

from its own investigation to the National Crime Agency,” the

London-based agency said in a statement. ”An active NCA

investigation is now underway and we are working closely with the

Football Association and the Gambling Commission.”

The NCA is also investigating an alleged international illegal

betting syndicate following an undercover investigation by the

Daily Telegraph which led to two players from the sixth tier being

charged with conspiring to fix matches last week.