PANAJI: The CBI extension is investigating match-fixing of football matches after it emerged that a notorious international fixer may have invested “large sums of money” in at least five Indian football clubs through shell companies.
CBI officials visited All India Football Federation (AIFF extension) in Delhi last week and sought more information on the clubs and their investments.
Sources said the CBI is investigating claims that the Singapore-based match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumalfirst jailed for match-fixing in Singapore in 1995 and sentenced in Finland and Hungary, he invested in Indian clubs through Living 3D Holdings Ltd.
The international match-fixer is known for fixing matches at all levels, including the Olympics, World Cup qualifiers, Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.
“AIFF has zero tolerance for match-fixing and we have written to clubs asking them to cooperate with the investigation,” said the AIFF secretary general. Shaji Prabhakaran he told TOI on Saturday. “There are concerns about investments made by shell companies linked to the fixer. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Indian football has no ties to anyone remotely connected with match-fixing.”
The CBI has also written individually to the clubs, asking them to provide details of all contracts, sponsorships, as well as agencies involved in signing foreign players and coaching personnel.
Five clubs are under investigation and the list curiously includes Indian arrowsthe development side of the AIFF which played in the I-League but was disbanded this season by the new executive committee, led by the former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey.
The five clubs investigated all played in the I-League.
For the past two seasons, the I-League, now the second tier of Indian football after the Indian Super League (ISLAND), was played within a biosafety bubble in Bengal due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those following the recent development aren’t surprised by the claims of match fixing, but are left wondering how Indian Arrows landed in the landline.
“We really fail to understand how Indian Arrows are among the five clubs. The Arrows were funded by the AIFF and the Odisha government and have had no foreign players or foreign personnel (for the past four years). It could be some people associated with the team,” another official said.
Match fixing in Indian football is the worst kept secret.
In Goa, where the government has given football state sport status, they monitor betting sports radar and Genius Sports, currently an integrity partner of the Goa Football Association (GFA), have reported several Goa Pro League matches for three consecutive years.
In fact, in just 10 days earlier this year, between March 15 and 24, six Goa Pro League matches were red-flagged for suspicious betting patterns, indicative of match-fixing.
One in five matches played in the top flight Goa has raised eyebrows due to suspicious results.
Games in other state championships also went under the scanner.
Match fixing has surged worldwide during the pandemic with a new report, ‘Bet Corruption and Match Fixing in 2021’, prepared by Sportradar, which uncovered suspicious activity in 903 matches last year, across 10 sports and in 76 countries around the world.
It is the highest number of suspicious matches recorded in Sportradar’s 17-year history.