Youth Cup bribery suspect arrested

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The Independent Online
A Malaysian man has been arrested in connection with attempts to bribe players taking part in the World Youth Championship. But a second man, who is believed to be a Thai and is wanted for questioning for his alleged involvement in the plot, was still at large in Doha, Qatar, yesterday.

The Malaysian had escaped detection during the day after he had changed hotels, a spokesman for Fifa, the world governing body, said, but he was later apprehended by security officials. Fifa immediately sought his deportation from Qatar but he was likely to remain in custody until yesterday at the earliest.

The spokesman explained that the Asian Football Confederation had requested the man be questioned in Doha. Earlier in the day, a Fifa spokesman told reporters it was investigating reports of attempted bribery at the 16- team championship.

According to statements from some delegations, believed to be Portugal, Honduras, Burundi and Cameroon, players were approached by the two men and offered money to spend in local stores. There were also reports of prostitutes being involved.

But Fifa stressed that no player or delegation has been implicated in the affair. "We have no reason to suspect that any player or group of players has acted at any time in a manner which is against the ethics of honesty and fair play," a spokesman said.

"Fifa is totally satisfied that all matches in the Championship have been free of outside influence," he added.

After rest days in the tournament yesterday and today, the quarter-finals - Brazil v Japan, Russia v Spain, Argentina v Cameroon, Portugal v Australia - will be played tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Zimbabwe has sacked the German Reinhard Fabisch as its national coach for allegedly interfering in local football administration and inciting a revolt by senior players. The chairman of Zimbabwe's Football Association, Leo Mugabe, said the coach, hired as a technical adviser in June 1992, was trying to hold the country to ransom. He accused Fabisch of backing Zimbabwean players who have threatened to boycott the African Nations Cup qualifier with Malawi this weekend unless they get a bigger share of the gate takings.

Fabisch denies the charge and another of influencing Zimbabwe's foreign- based players not to turn up for national duty if the demand was not met, saying he knew that ZFA had meagre funds. "We have decided to terminate his [Fabisch] services, because he is trying to hold the country to ransom, encouraging a mercenary attitude in our players and generally interfering in soccer administration," said Mugabe, a nephew of Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe.

The players are demanding 40 per cent of the gross takings, which officials say could amount to more than $50,000 (£31,800).

In previous African and World Cup campaigns they have been allocated 40 per cent of net receipts. Fabisch said he was shocked by his dismissal but hoped it would not affect Zimbabwe's chances of beating Malawi tomorrow.