Sunday morning has brought about some negative press for soccer in the lead-up to the World Cup in Brazil later this month. There was the report that Qatar paid millions in bribes for the 2022 World Cup.
Then there is the two-part investigative report from the New York Times that looks into one of the biggest black eyes in world soccer: match fixing.
According to the report, a Singapore-based match-fixing syndicate infiltrated the South African soccer federation to have a hand in choosing referees for multiple exhibition games before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The biggest case detailed involves a referee named Ibrahim Chaibou, who was accused of depositing nearly $100,000 in cash hours before refereeing a friendly between South Africa and Guatemala. The Times reports that Chaibou was chosen to work the match by Football 4U International, a group that counted Wilson Raj Perumal among its executives. Perumal, who has been arrested multiple times for corruption and match-fixing, wrote in his memoirs that he paid Chaibou $60,000 to referee the aforementioned match.
Four years later, nothing is expected to be done about those manipulated matches. However, it brings about questions people have had about world soccer for years: how to stop the prospect of match-fixing?
From the report:
A FIFA spokeswoman said Friday that the Zurich staff now included six investigators and that FIFA worked with a broad network of law enforcement officials including Interpol. Delia Fischer, the spokeswoman, said that for the World Cup, 12 security officers would be assigned to each stadium, with the monitoring of potential match fixing among their duties.
In addition, Ms. Fischer said, a security staff of 18 will be on hand from FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Mr. Mutschke, FIFA's security chief, said on the organization's website that a primary concern about fixing is the third and final game of the group phase of the World Cup, when a particular team has been eliminated or has already qualified for the second round.
Just last week, suspicions arose about the legitimacy of the Nigeria-Scotland friendly at Craven Cottage in London. The National Crime Agency, Britain's version of the FBI, looked into the matter and one highly suspect non-goal only intensified the rumors.
The 2014 World Cup begins in just 11 days, with host country Brazil taking on Croatia.