SAfrica in clear so far in FIFA match-fixing probe

A FIFA investigation has revealed that an agent for an Asian

betting syndicate helped organize suspicious exhibition games

played by South Africa as it prepared to host the 2010 World

Cup.

Jailed fixer Wilson Perumal appointed referees after being

chosen to help the South African Football Association, FIFA

security director Chris Eaton said Monday.

An international match-fixing scandal has included accusations

surrounding international games in South Africa leading to the 2010

World Cup in the country. Soccer scandals also have hit Finland,

Italy, South Korea, Turkey and Zimbabwe, among others.

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 investigation 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 soccer

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.”

Niger official Ibrahim 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

handballs, 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 exhibition against

Colombia, played four days before the Guatemala match as the

official opener in Johannesburg’s rebuilt Soccer City stadium,

which staged 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.