FIFA probes Argentina’s thrashing in Nigeria
FIFA and Nigeria’s football federation are investigating
Argentina’s 4-1 loss in Nigeria on Wednesday after betting patterns
suggested it was targeted by match fixers.
It is the highest profile match yet in a wave of suspicious
recent international friendlies, often with goals scored from
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
A second-string Argentina team was outplayed by Nigeria, which
earned its first victory over the South Americans in a one-sided
The Nigeria Football Federation, which organized the match, said
it would help FIFA’s investigation and also set up its own inquiry,
but denied any knowledge of match fixing, stressing it was
”unaware of any suspicious motives in this game.”
”We will put all these measures (the inquiry) in place in the
spirit of fair play and transparency,” NFF General Secretary Musa
Amadu said in a statement. ”But we would still insist that, until
it is proven beyond doubt, we believe that we won this match fair
and square … There remains, to the best of our knowledge, no
untoward motives to this game than to play it fairly and win it
Argentina coach Sergio Batista, talking Saturday at a press
conference in Warsaw ahead of his team’s friendly against Poland on
Sunday, told reporters he ”did not notice anything alarming”
during the Nigeria match.
Hours before kick-off at the National Stadium 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
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’s spot kick was awarded by Chaibou for a debatable
handball after the ball appeared to strike a Nigerian defender on
the shin and then bounce up and hit a teammate on the thigh.
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.
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
The NFF called suspicions of match fixing in Wednesday’s game