AFC offers support in major graft probe

February 07, 2013 - 7:12:19 am

KUALA LUMPUR: Asian football’s governing body offered its support yesterday to an investigation by European police into a massive world-wide match-fixing scandal.

European police announced on Monday that they had uncovered a massive global match-rigging network that targeted hundreds of professional games, drawing in players, referees and other officials.

Police have said a crime syndicate in Singapore was liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe, with match-fixing having taken place in 15 countries, and 50 people arrested so far.

The Asian Football Confederation, based in neighbouring Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, said it was “fully prepared” to support institutions in the fight against corruption, although no organisation has yet made “formal contact” on the matter.

“We are closely following the news reports which have suggested that Asia is one of the continents where the suspicious matches took place,” said Alex Soosay, the body’s general secretary. 

“AFC has a zero-tolerance policy towards unethical practices in football, and we are determined to fight against any kind of irregularities that include... match-fixing, corruption and illegal betting in the game.”

Meanwhile, Hungarian football side Debrecen said yesterday that they have had no contact from Europol in connection with match-fixing allegations surrounding a Champions League match in 2009.

Reports in Denmark and elsewhere saying the match was Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Debrecen at Anfield in 2009.

The Debrecen goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was banned by UEFA for two years for failing to report approaches from fixers in 2009 but the charge at the time only specified a tie against Fiorentina. 

Debrecen confirmed via a statement Tuesday that Poleksic was also approached before the Liverpool game. 

A club source said yesterday, however, that the club considered the case closed as Poleksic refused the bribes, was cleared by UEFA of matchfixing and had served his ban.

“No one from Europol or any other organisation has contacted the club in connection with the match-fixing investigation,” the source said.

The statement titled “A bone already chewed” released on Debrecen’s website Tuesday said: “all information relating to the matter was given in summer 2010”. 

“Several news outlets have ran the story by the Danish Ekstra Bladet newspaper that on September 16, 2009, before the Liverpool-Debrecen Champions League group match, attempts were made to bribe our goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic,” the statement read. Sgencies