Football match-fixing: referees embroiled in scandal
Singaporean arrested on Tuesday secretly recorded saying he would pay referees across Europe a fee of £20,000
12:36PM GMT 28 Nov 2013
The alleged match fixer at the centre of the football betting scandal exposed by The Telegraph has also claimed that he can pay referees to manipulate the results of games.
The Singaporean, who was arrested on Tuesday night, was secretly recorded saying that he would pay referees across Europe a fee of £20,000.
It is understood that the claim is also being examined by the National Crime Agency which has launched a major investigation into match fixing in the wake of disclosures made by The Telegraph.
The man was one of six arrested by the National Crime Agency earlier this week. Three footballers and Delroy Facey, a player-turned-agent who has played in the Premier League, were also arrested.
It can now be disclosed that, as well as claiming he could pay players to fix matches, the Singaporean man also alleged that referees were involved.
“The price for one game is £20,000”, said the fixer. “So I know some referees … You want Europe, anywhere, £20,000”.
It was not clear from the conversation whether any British referees were involved.
The fixer arrived in this country last week and was arrested on Tuesday evening.
In a series of covertly recorded conversations over the past fortnight, he claimed that lower league matches could be fixed for as little as £50,000 and correctly forecast the outcome of three games played by the same team.
It is the first time police have amassed sufficient evidence to hold those suspected of attempting to fix a match in Britain, following a series of similar scandals abroad.
In a statement, the NCA said: “Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing.
“The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate. The NCA is working closely with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association.”
The operation is one of the first by the agency, dubbed Britain’s FBI, which was launched this year to fight suspected organised and serious crime.
The identities of the teams involved cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, as the police operation is understood to remain active. However, they are not Premiership sides. “This operation remains very live with new developments on an almost daily basis,” said one well – placed source.
Nick Clegg has said that the allegations about football match-rigging are “very worrying” and warned that it must be investigated by the authorities.
Mr Clegg told LBC Radio: “It needs to be looked at. Like any person who follows football I’ve read accounts of football match fixing in other countries and thought there by the grace of god go we.
“To hear that it’s now being investigated here, there have been arrests in the Midlands, is very worrying.
“I hope that’s the sum total of it. It would be terrible if we look back in months and years to come and discover this is the tip of [theice-berg].”
The disclosure of the match fixing arrests has led to claims that the problem has now become “endemic” in the global game.
Match-fixing is “endemic” in football, the former head of security for Fifa claimed today after members of an alleged betting syndicate were arrested on suspicion of fixing English games.
Chris Eaton, now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, said it had been “only a matter of time” before the English game was caught up in what he called the “global wave of match-fixing in football.”
He said: “International sport, especially football, is in serious trouble with corruption of its competitions.”
David Davies, the former Football Association, said that English football is not immune to the “disease” of match fixing.
“We are not immune to a disease that has already struck in 60 countries, at least, around the world where match-fixing has been alleged and in some cases been proved”, he said.
Mr Davies, who has spent time in the Far East seeing how betting works over there, added: “People are fanatical about betting even in areas where it’s illegal.
“The truth is there is all of this unofficial betting, quite a lot of it on the Internet, and they bet on everything and anything.”
The suspected match fixers are being held under the bribery and fraud Acts at a police station in the Midlands. It is understood that the Crown Prosecution Service has been liaising with police officers in recent days.
The suggestion that English football games are susceptible to match – fixing will cause serious concern for the Football Association.
In recent years concern has been growing that gangs were targeting matches in the UK. This newspaper was approached by an undercover investigator with links to Fifa, who had been gathering evidence against suspected Asian match fixers offering to operate in Britain.
During a series of undercover meetings in Manchester this month, which were covertly recorded, one of the fixers claimed he could rig games and that potential gamblers would make hundreds of thousands of pounds by using the inside information on Asian – based betting websites.
The fixer, from Singapore, also alleged that he controlled teams in other European countries and could buy foreign referees to secure results.
“In England the cost is very high … usually for the players it is £70,000,” he explained in imperfect English.
He offered to target two football matches in Britain this month. He said he planned to tell players how many goals he needed to be scored in total. “I commit myself and they commit. So you tell me how many goals … Give me at least five … either 3–2, 4–0 or zero, … for me four is enough.”
He also claimed that he would pay one player an extra £5,000 to take a yellow card at the beginning of the game as a signal that the match’s result was likely to be manipulated. During one meeting this month, the fixer correctly predicted how many goals would be scored during a match the following day.
“This is my team”, he began, pointing to the club listed on a gambling website. “I know what they’re going to do.”
He added: “I know because they all tell me every time. Because sometimes I have extra money, I just send them some money … because sometimes they need money or they call me so I just leave them some pocket money.”
The fixer asked us for €60,000 [£50,000], which he said was to cover the cost of paying the players.
He claimed to be connected to Wilson Raj Perumal, who has been convicted of rigging football matches abroad. “Wilson Raj Perumal … he’s the king … he’s my boss. Everybody in the world know him,” the fixer said.
Raj Perumal, is also originally from Singapore, but has lived in London. He is understood to be responsible for fixing numerous football matches over the last 30 years, and is helping the Hungarian police to investigate corruption.
Match fixers target players and officials to rig the result of games so that they can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds by betting or allowing others to bet on the predetermined outcome.
The gambling takes place in the Asian market and British betting markets are not believed to have been implicated.
International betting monitors have warned that millions of pounds are being wagered on Conference games and some UK bookmakers stopped taking bets on some teams early this year.
It is understood that there are active police investigations into football fixing in more than 60 countries.
An FA spokesman said: “The FA has been made aware of a number of arrests in relation to an NCA investigation. We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations.”