International match-fixing allegations point to referees and assistants

 

Ghana’s international football team was being lined up to play in games that would be rigged by purported match fixers who were actually undercover journalists, according to a report.

A registered Fifa agent, Christopher Forsythe, and a senior figure in Ghana’s Football Association, Obed Nketiah, met with reporters from The Daily Telegraph and a former Fifa investigator who pretended to represent an investment company that wanted to “sponsor” games.

A contract was drawn up stating it would cost about £100,000 for each match to be rigged by referees and assistants chosen specifically for the match - a violation of Fifa rules.

The contract was agreed by the president of Ghana’s FA, Kwesi Nyantakyi, the Telegraph reported, although he later said he had not read the document and did not realise it involved match fixing.

When confronted by the journalists, Mr Forsythe said his remarks about match fixing were “a figment of my own imagination because I am so naïve that I don’t even know how matches are done”.

“They were promises just to be able to get something off you,” he added.

Mr Nketiah said the allegations were false, saying: “I will never in my life do such a thing.”

During meetings with the fake investment company, part of a joint investigation by the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, Mr Forsythe told the journalists: “You will always have to come to us and say how you want it to go … the result.

“That’s why we will get the officials that we have greased their palms, so they will do it. If we bring in our own officials to do the match … You’re making your money.”

Mr Forsythe also claimed that match fixing was “everywhere”, saying: “The referees can change the matches every time. Even in England it does happen.”

When the investment firm queried whether the arrangement would work, Mr Forsythe said: “We will always choose associations/countries that we think we can corrupt their officials for all our matches.”

Mr Nketiah told the undercover reporters that the referees would have to be given “something” as “they are going to do a lot of work for you”.

The contract said that “the Company will appoint and pay for the cost of the referees/match officials in consultation with an agreed Fifa Member association(s),” in contravention of rules that prevent third parties from appointing officials.

At a meeting in Miami this month, Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah introduced the journalists to Mr Nyantakyi and he agreed he was happy for a trial game to go ahead under the terms of the contract.

Terry Steans, a former Fifa investigator, said even World Cup matches were “vulnerable” to being fixed as “criminal gangs … have existing networks of contacts at all levels inside the game and they will look for any vulnerability they can find to exploit”.

“Match-fixing is widespread. It is happening at every level and in many countries. Match-fixing syndicates with criminal intent have infiltrated all levels of football and sport from national, regional and onto international. Fifa needs to do more,” he said.

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