Soccer: Match fixing blow for Singapore

Wilson Raj Perumal (pictured) jailed in Finland in 2011 and another Singaporean, Tan Seet Eng or Dan Tan, wanted in Italy over the "calcioscommesse" scandal. Photo / AP
Wilson Raj Perumal (pictured) jailed in Finland in 2011 and another Singaporean, Tan Seet Eng or Dan Tan, wanted in Italy over the "calcioscommesse" scandal. Photo / AP

Singapore police say they are helping European authorities in their investigation into an international crime syndicate that rigged hundreds of soccer matches in Europe and elsewhere.

"Singapore takes a strong stance against match-fixing and is committed to working with international enforcement agencies to bring down transnational criminal syndicates, including those that involve the acts of Singaporeans overseas, and protect the integrity of the sport," said police.

In the latest indication that Singapore is at the heart of a global match-fixing empire, Europol said it had smashed a network rigging hundreds of games, including in the Champions League and World Cup qualifiers.

Europol said a five-country probe had identified 380 suspicious matches targeted by a Singapore-based betting cartel, whose illegal activities stretched to players, referees and officials across the world.

A further 300 suspicious matches have been identified outside Europe in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, in the course of the investigation.

Analysts said revelations about the scale of the scandal could damage Singapore's squeaky-clean image as one of the world's least corrupt nations.

Singapore's role in international match-rigging has long been clear, with Wilson Raj Perumal jailed in Finland in 2011 and another Singaporean, Tan Seet Eng or Dan Tan, wanted in Italy over the "calcioscommesse" scandal.

However, the latest announcement uncovered the huge scale of the activities, and raised potential problems for Singapore's reputation, as well as questions about how authorities are dealing with the match-fixing syndicates.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said it took "a serious view of allegations pertaining to match-fixing and football corruption" and vowed to "spare no effort" to crack down on any such activities.

Zaihan Mohamed Yusof, an investigative reporter with Singapore's New Paper, who is considered a leading authority on match-fixing, admitted he was taken aback by the numbers revealed by Europol.

"This number to me it's huge, 680," he said.

"Whether Singaporeans were involved in the whole 680, I'm not sure but at least there's a figure and you can see the scale there."

And Neil Humphreys, a popular sports columnist and author, asked why "so little is being done to question Singaporean individuals allegedly involved in such a global match-fixing operation".

"More pertinently," he said, "the issue has not received quite the same front-page media attention that it has in other football-popular countries, despite the obvious fact that Singapore is allegedly home to the ringleaders of the world's biggest match-fixing syndicate."

- AAP

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