FIFA probes Argentina’s thrashing in Nigeria

FIFA is investigating Argentina’s 4-1 loss in Nigeria on

Wednesday after betting patterns suggested it was targeted by match

fixers.

It’s the highest profile match yet in a wave of suspicious

recent international friendlies, often with goals scored from

penalty kicks.

The match ”was one that we had an active interest in, and forms

part of a wider ongoing FIFA investigation,” football’s world

governing body said on Saturday.

FIFA was ”working closely” with its betting monitoring agency

Early Warning System which tracks wagers placed with more than 400

operators worldwide.

Hours before kick off in Abuja on Wednesday, FIFA President Sepp

Blatter launched his ”Zero Tolerance” campaign to stop corruption

in football.

FIFA’s 208 member nations in Zurich also passed new rules to

control the organization of international matches, including the

power to veto referee appointments.

Referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger awarded two penalties – one to

each side – in Wednesday’s game between two teams who played each

other at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria took a 2-0 lead with a 26th minute spot-kick after

Chaibou awarded a foul against Argentina defender Federico

Fazio.

Five minutes of stoppage time were announced at the end of the

match, with play continuing until the 98th minute when Argentina

scored with a penalty kick from Mauro Boselli.

Argentina fielded a below-strength lineup without star forwards

such as Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria.

However, there was no suggestion that players from either team

were involved in manipulating the match.

Nigeria Football Federation spokesman Ademola Olajire told The

Associated Press he had no knowledge of a FIFA investigation.

Chaibou is one of the most experienced FIFA-approved referees

with 15 years’ service on the international list. He was born in

1966 and must step down this year on reaching FIFA’s referee age

limit of 45.

As match-fixing investigations develop across the world, FIFA

announced last month it would pay Interpol ?20 million ($29

million) over the next 10 years to educate referees, players,

coaches and officials in how to resist corruption.

”FIFA is currently receiving lots of information and

cooperation across Europe, Asia, Africa and South and Central

America, and as an organisation we are committed to tackling this

problem in the most vigorous way possible,” the governing body

said.