London: Former Wimbledon striker John Fashanu has denied fresh allegations that that he was involved in attempting to fix football matches.
The News of the World reported Sunday that its undercover journalists, posing as Arab businessmen, had slipped Fashanu a £ 5,000 ($ 8,000) “deposit” towards rigging a match.
But Fashanu, who was cleared of unconnected match-fixing allegations six years ago after two criminal trials, claimed he knew he was being set up and played along in order to acquire evidence to hand to police.
The 41-year-old said he had met “three Indian gentlemen who knew nothing at all about football,” and who initially wanted to discuss taking a team of soccer stars to the Middle East.
But at a second meeting, he said, the men talked about match-fixing. “They were so, so direct,” he said. “These are people I’ve never met before in my life and had one meeting with, and all of a sudden they’re talking about giving people five thousand to 40 thousand (pounds).”
Fashanu said he had informed the police before he accepted the cash and immediately afterwards had taken the money to a police station. “As soon as money changed hands, I went straight to the police station, gave it all to the police... did a full statement – that was the same day as they gave me the money and in the evening they were still calling me, wanting to meet me,” he said.
“They didn’t know. They believed I had given the money to football players.”
News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis said the tabloid stood by its story. “Our view is simple: read the paper, make up your own mind,” he said. “Our dossier is available to anybody who wishes to investigate it.”
The FA said it would be looking at the News of the World’s evidence. “Obviously these are allegations in a newspaper which we will give consideration to over the next few days,” spokesman Adrian Bevington said. “These are particular allegations involving a particular individual and we would like to clarify the facts before commenting further.”