Monday, July 12, 2010

Fifa was warned of Nigeria World Cup match-fixing fears

Fifa was warned before this year's World Cup of fears that Nigeria's team could be vulnerable to match-fixing, the BBC has learned.

An investigator for Uefa raised concerns, including suspicions over betting patterns.

Nigeria went out of the tournament in the first round, losing to Greece.

World governing body Fifa does not deny receiving a warning but say it has "no indication" of match-fixing in any World Cup matches.

BBC Newsnight understands an investigator working with Uefa first became suspicious during qualifying rounds of the World Cup.

It is alleged that certain Nigerian players came forward and said their team was vulnerable to manipulation.

On the morning of Nigeria's first match, he alerted Fifa's new Early Warning System, set up to look for signs of match-rigging, of his concerns.

After Newsnight was aired Fifa responded, saying no information provided by any informant relating to potential match-fixing at the tournament has had any substance.

A statement said: "Fifa and the Early Warning System (EWS) have a network of informants from which we receive information.

"Of course, as you may understand, we will not disclose the identity of the informants. What we can say is that at least until today no information provided by the informants to Fifa in relation to any potential match-fixing activities during the 2010 Fifa World Cup have proved to have any substance.

"Furthermore, we can also say that there is no indication whatsoever until today of any match-fixing situations during any of the matches of the 2010 Fifa World Cup."

German journalist Christian Bergmann also had a call just before the first Nigerian game of the tournament from a Uefa contact who said there were suggestions that "some players from the Nigerian team are actually involved in some form of manipulation".

In their second game of the tournament, Nigeria were strong favourites to beat Greece and took an early 1-0 lead.

But after just 33 minutes Nigeria had a man sent off and Greece subsequently scored their first ever World Cup goals to win 2-1.

After their elimination, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan was so angry with the poor performances that he suspended the whole team from international competition. He later reversed that decision following a complaint from Fifa.


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1 comment:

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