SAfrica in clear so far in FIFA match-fixing probe
JOHANNESBURG—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.