World football’s governing body Fifa says it will continue to collaborate with intelligence bodies, as well as public and other sports organisations in the fight against match-fixing.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the National Crime Agency (NCA), Britain’s equivalent of the FBI, which investigates serious and organised crime, have launched an investigation into attempts to manipulate Wednesday’s international friendly between Nigeria and Scotland, billed for Fulham’s Craven Cottage.
“Fifa continues to work closely with law enforcement agencies as well as the respective public authorities and other sports organisations on a national, regional and global level to tackle the issue of match manipulation,” a Fifa spokesperson is quoted as saying on the Telegraph.
It is understood that the NCA have contacted Fifa to ‘red flag’ the friendly match over potential rigging attempts and that the Scottish Football Association have been in contact with the NCA since the development.
The SFA have released a statement saying they are liaising with the relevant authorities and are preparing for the match as normal
It is however not suggested that any of the notable players like; Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses or Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher are involved in the conspiracy.
Fifa has detailed plans to give footballers special briefings on what to do if they are targeted by match-fixers during the World Cup.
For the first time, Fifa officials will conduct “integrity sessions” for players from all eligible 32 nations, where they will be charged to report any suspicious moves by match-fixers via a special anti-corruption hotline available only to players and referees.
Security agents will appear at each of the 12 World Cup venues, social media will be monitored and scrutiny will be applied to suspicious betting patterns.
“We are aware of the claims published recently,” the Fifa spokesperson added. “Generally speaking, we are not in a position to comment or provide information on any match-manipulation investigations that are ongoing so as not to compromise investigations, nor do we provide any comments as to whether or not any investigations are underway.
“We encourage that anyone with information about any suspicious matches should contact relevant authorities such as through Fifa’s integrity hotline or e-mail address and confidential reporting system.”
This is not the first time Nigeria will be linked witt such allegation. In April, Fifa had to wade into games manipulation claims by a convicted Singaporean match-fixer concerning the country’s senior national men’s team, the Super Eagles, during the World Cup 2010 qualifying series.
Tapes of all Eagles’ 2010 World Cup qualifying matches were watched by officials of the governing body, after the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had dismissed Perumal’s claimsas a complete hoax, adding it had “had nothing to do with Perumal all through the Super Eagles’ qualifying series for 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
The friendly match is part of the African champions’ build up for next month’s tournament, where they face Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina in Group F.