Tackling football match-fixing puts pressure on Singapore authorities

Published February 05, 2013

| Associated Press

Revelations that a Singapore-based crime syndicate has been involved in fixing soccer matches around the world has put extra pressure on authorities in the Southeast Asian city-state to take action against the alleged ringleader.

The Singaporean businessman known as Dan Tan has been placed on Italy's wanted list and has been implicated in various investigations into soccer corruption, including Monday's revelations in The Hague by the European police agency Europol. He has avoided arrest in his homeland.

The Singapore Police Force said over the weekend it was assisting the Italian authorities through Interpol and has given information requested by the National Central Bureau in Rome, but had not charged Tan.

The Football Association of Singapore on Tuesday said it is continuing "to work closely with the relevant authorities, both at the domestic and international levels."

The 18-month review by Europol uncovered 380 suspicious matches in Europe and another 300 questionable games outside the continent, mainly in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. Matches included World Cup qualifiers and Champions League matches.

So far, there's been no arrest of Tan, despite multiple agencies in Singapore potentially having jurisdiction in the case.

"The authorities in Singapore are assisting the European authorities in their investigations into an international match-fixing syndicate that purportedly involves Singaporeans," the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.

"Singapore takes a strong stance against match-fixing and is committed to working with international enforcement agencies to bring down transnational criminal syndicates, including those that involve the acts of Singaporeans overseas, and protect the integrity of the sport."

Despite its immense wealth, Singapore has been hit by soccer corruption fueled by illicit gambling syndicates.

Last May, Singapore authorities charged a top referee and a former Malaysian international with conspiring to fix a Malaysian Super League match.

In another closely watched case, Singapore national Wilson Raj Perumal, who had ties to Asian and Eastern European gambling syndicates, was jailed in Finland for match-fixing.

"The problem of match-fixing is not just confined to Asia," Ridzal Saat, deputy director of development and planning at the Football Association of Singapore, told the AP. "It is a global problem and we will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities, both at the domestic and international levels to combat match-fixing and football corruption aggressively.

"We take a serious view of allegations pertaining to match-fixing and football corruption activities and the authorities and we will spare no effort in minimizing the possibility of such activities taking place within the local football scene."

Last February, 18 players in Malaysia were suspended for between two and five years on charges of match-fixing. Chinese courts handed out lengthy prison sentences last year to senior officials and players for accepting bribes. South Korea has taken measures to improve the structure of its league after the match-fixing scandal of 2011, when 46 contracted or former players were charged with corruption.

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