Fifa extends match-fixing bans in new crackdown

 

Match-fixing bans imposed on 74 players and officials from Italy and South Korea have been extended worldwide by Fifa. The move comes two days after the governing body announced that bans on 58 Chinese football officials and players would also be enforced worldwide.

Fifa has been especially keen to be seen cracking down on corruption since the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, Europol, announced earlier this month that around 680 matches were suspected of being fixed from Singapore.

The governing body said the scope of the 70 suspensions affecting the Italian Football Federation, including 11 lifetime bans, had been broadened after players and officials were sanctioned for match-fixing in various hearings.

Fifa announced that these sanctions involved either a “direct involvement or omission to report match-fixing, illegal betting or corrupt organisation [association to commit illicit acts]”.

Prosecutors in Cremona, Bari and Napoli are currently investigating evidence that a betting ring run from Singapore has been gambling on rigged Italian football matches.

Last week, Italian authorities detained a suspect, Admir Suljic, when the Slovenian landed in Milan on a flight from Singapore. Suljic faces charges of criminal association and sports fraud.

Meanwhile, the game in Asia was hit by another scandal when the Asian Football Confederation said it would investigate a report from Lebanon in which 24 players have been sanctioned over allegations that international and regional games were fixed, including a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The Lebanese Football Association (LFA) announced on Tuesday that it had suspended national team players Mahmoud al-Ali and Ramez Dayoub for life – both claim they are innocent – and handed down suspensions ranging from one to three seasons to 22 other players who were implicated in the match-fixing and bribery scandal.

The LFA concluded that players took money from betting companies to lose domestic and other matches in Asia. The World Cup qualifier was Lebanon’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar last year.

The Asian Football Confederation announced last week that it had set up a task force to help combat match-fixing on the continent.

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