FIFA completes 1st stage of South African probe

A FIFA investigation has revealed that a notorious match-fixing

agent helped organize suspicious friendly matches played by South

Africa as it prepared to host the 2010 World Cup.

Jailed fixer Wilson Perumal appointed referees, including Niger

official Ibrahim Chaibou, after being chosen to help the South

Africa Football Association, FIFA security director Chris Eaton

said Monday.

”It is clear that the convicted criminal and football

match-fixer, Wilson Perumal, was involved in convincing SAFA to

agree to a company then managed by him (Football4U) to select, fund

and appoint referees to certain international matches played in

2010 which are now under investigation,” Eaton said in a statement

released by the South African body.

No South African player was implicated by any evidence gathered

during interviews with past and present SAFA officials in the first

stage of FIFA’s probe into the allegations, Eaton said.

Perumal was jailed in Finland last year after being convicted of

fixing league matches there, and his evidence has led FIFA on a

trail of match-fixing allegations worldwide.

The Singapore businessman is believed to be part of a southeast

Asian organized crime network fixing matches for betting scams

worth tens of millions of dollars.

Eaton has switched focus to South Africa after helping football

officials in Zimbabwe reveal plots involving the former chief

executive of the national federation and dozens of players.

He said that he still needs to interview referees and review

some ”forensic documentary material.”

Chaibou is among those being sought, to answer questions about

his handling of South Africa’s 5-0 victory over Guatemala in

Polokwane on May 31, 2010 – less than two weeks before the

tournament kicked off.

The FIFA-approved official awarded three penalties for handball,

including one which clearly struck a defender standing outside the

penalty area.

Chaibou is under suspicion in separate probes over his handling

of international matches, including Nigeria’s 4-1 victory over

Argentina in a June 2011 friendly and Bahrain’s 3-0 win against a

fake Togo team in September 2010. He left FIFA’s international list

after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 45 last year.

Also under suspicion is South Africa’s friendly against

Colombia, played four days before the Guatemala match as the

official opener in Johannesburg’s rebuilt Soccer City stadium,

which went on to stage the World Cup final.

South Africa won 2-1 with all the goals coming from penalties.

One of them was also ordered to be retaken.

The host nation also beat Thailand 4-0 in Nelspruit and drew 1-1

with Bulgaria in Johannesburg in World Cup warmup matches.

FIFA investigators have spent four days in South Africa

collecting evidence in its latest match-fixing probe.

SAFA chief executive Robin Petersen invited more witnesses to

come forward.

”This investigation will be concluded as fast as humanly

possible, while respecting due process and extending full

opportunities for anyone to contribute to arriving at the complete

truth of these matters,” Petersen said.