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2011 I-League match raises Fifa eyebrows

- No action taken as AIFF did not file any complaint

Ranty Martins had scored a double hat-trick

New Delhi: The result of the infamous 2011 I-League match, between Dempo Sports Club and Air India, has raised suspicion among the Fifa anti-corruption officials, it was revealed during the Fifa-Interpol workshop against match fixing on Wednesday.

The Goan club had won 14-0.

According to sources, one of the Fifa officials said during the workshop that the world body was surprised by the unusual scoreline of the match. “Was it a normal result? We thought it wasn’t,” said the official.

Fifa, however, did not initiate any inquiry into that match, in which Nigerian striker Ranty Martins had struck a double hat-trick, because they did not hear from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Both teams, including their coaches, Armando Colaco and Santosh Kashyap, said the match was played in the right spirit.

Dempo Sports Club assistant coach Maurice Afonso said: “Our plan was to go all outů Once we took a 6-0 lead, we told our boys to score as much as possible. We had a terrific side and Ranty was in superb form. Those who accused us of fixing was only undermining our fine performance.”

The Fifa-Interpol officials, however, made it clear that India were not among the nations where match fixing is rampant in soccer. Out of the 209 Fifa members, the officials said, 90 nations are facing problems in match fixing.

On AIFF’s behalf, vice-president Subroto Dutta said the federation was aware of match-fixing problems in several countries. He added that the AIFF could specially appoint an integrity officer to curb the menace.

“Fifa has been pushing for an anti-corruption unit for quite some time now, as it is convinced that prevention is better than cure. The AIFF executive committee will resolve to appoint an anti-corruption officer and also the framework in which the ACSU unit will work,” Dutta said.

At its Mauritius congress in June, the Fifa had expressed its fears regarding corruption.

Though charges of match-fixing and corruption are still unheard of in Indian football, the AIFF doesn’t want to take any chance.

The fears surfaced following the suspension of two Lebanese match officials by the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) after they were arrested in Singapore ahead of East Bengal’s AFC Cup match against Tampines Rovers in April.

Fifa-recognised referee Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were arrested hours before the match, on charges of accepting sexual favours in return for fixing the match.

Apart from Fifa, the AIFF and the Interpol officials, senior Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers were also present at the seminar. The CBI director Ranjit Sinha, in his address, said his agency had taken note of the increasing cases of corruption in Indian sport.

Lack of legal framework, he said, was one of the reasons why corruption charges in sport could not be probed properly. Sinha said the CBI will soon set up a sports fraud investigation unit, under the special crime branch. It will investigate fraud in sports, match fixing and illegal betting.

Sinha said the unit will coordinate with other law enforcement agencies and will gather intelligence to combat corruption.

“It will coordinate with other law enforcement agencies of the world and act as a nodal agency to coordinate with states' police forces.

“It shall be our endeavour to liaise and coordinate with sports federations to build capabilities to tackle match fixing and corrupt practices,” he said.

The seminar also discussed that the sports ministry is also in the final stages of drafting a law to tackle corruption in sports, and it will help the law enforcement agencies to prosecute the guilty.

The seminar on “Tackling Match Fixing and Corruption in Football” is part of a Fifa and the Interpol endeavour to train and educate member associations about preventive measures.