FIFA clears up match-fixing cases with raft of player bans across Africa and Caribbean

April 25 – FIFA have issued lifetime bans to eight current and former players and an agent after they were found guilty of match manipulation.

Those punished include former Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo and fellow internationals Seidath Tchomogo from Benin (2003-13) and Hellings Mwakasungula of Malawi (2004-2011). A 10-year ban was also given to former Kenyan international George Owino.

FIFA said the bans related to attempted match manipulation of international games but refused to give details. However, as so often in match-rigging cases, the involvement of notorious Singapore convicted matchfixer Raj Perumal was central to its investigations.

“The formal disciplinary proceedings into the aforementioned individuals stemmed from an extensive investigation into various international matches that Mr Wilson Raj Perumal attempted to manipulate for betting purposes,” said FIFA.

“This large-scale investigation was conducted by FIFA over several years through its Integrity Department and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.”

Kargbo represented Sierra Leone from 2000-2013 and had already been accused of match-fixing by the football associations of Sierra Leone and the Netherlands, where he played for Willem II backi n 2009.

Owino, who played for Kenya between 2008-2015,  denied any wrongdoing when FIFA announced in February that it wanted a full investigation into allegations that several Kenya internationals were fixed. Owino and Perumal featured in a ten-page FIFA preliminary report, detailing their activities to alter the outcome of matches based on e-mail exchanges between the player and the match-fixer. The governing body said it had prima facie evidence of the duo manipulating and influencing high profile international matches. “Mr Owino … appears to have conspired to manipulate international matches and enter into corrupt agreements with Mr Perumal,” FIFA stated at the time.

FIA says it had prima facie evidence that both Owino and Perumal conspired to influence the result of several Kenya internationals between 2009-2011, including a World Cup clash against Tunisia.

Tchomogo represented Benin at three different Africa Cup of Nations tournaments – in 2004, 2008 and 2010 – but there is no suggestion that any games at these events were part of FIFA’s investigation.

In addition to the African quartet, FIFA also handed out life bans to former players from Afghanistan, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago and to well as Zimbabwean agent Kudzanai Shaba.

“The following individuals have been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at both national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for life,” said FIFA, naming the players as Karlon Murray, Trinidad and Tobago; Keyeno Thomas, Trinidad and Tobago; Hellings Mwakasungula, Malawi; Ibrahim Kargbo, Sierra Leone;  Séïdath Tchomogo, Benin; Leonel Duarte, Cuba and Mohammad Salim Israfeel Kohistani, Afghanistan.

“Moreover, the Kenyan player Mr George Owino Audi has been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at both national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of ten (10) years. In addition, a fine in the amount of CHF 15,000 has been imposed upon him.”

Perumal has admitted being a key part of a Singaporean-based syndicate which he said rigged matches both at club and international level. He has been arrested in both Finland and Hungary having first been jailed in 1995 in Singapore.

In a 2015 Al Jazeera report he claimed that he rigged Kenya’s 2010 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in 2009 to help the Super Eagles on their way to South Africa.

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