Match fixing latest

Six men have been charged following an investigation into a match-fixing in Australian state football.

The charges relate to the alleged fixing of results at a little know second-division Melbourne side called Southern Stars.

The Australian Associated Press identified the prime accused, Segaran ‘Gerry’ Gsubramaniam, 45, as a Malaysian who was reportedly the middle man with players.

Detective Scott Poynder told the court that receipts for foreign currency worth more than Aus$200,000 were found at Gsubramaniam’s rented accommodation and he had been booked to leave Australia on Monday night.

“On a worldwide scale (Gsubramaniam) is not the big wig, Australian-wise he is,” Poynder said.

Goalkeeper Joe Wooley, 23 reportedly a British national, and the team coach were among five other men each charged with eight counts linked to fixing the outcome of a betting event.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the authorities suspected notorious Singaporean match fixer, Tamil Wilson Raj Perumal, of materminding the scam.

Perumal was believed to have recruited British players from minor leagues, despite being under Hungarian police protection as a supergrass in local match-fixing cases, it said.

Southern Stars president Ercan Cicek told reporters that five players were brought in from England at the start of the season by an unnamed man who also offered to set up sponsorship.

The arrests followed a tip-off from the Football Federation of Australia. Its chief David Gallop said the governing body had been alerted by international betting watchdog Sportradar, which had detected suspicious activity.

“The integrity of football is paramount,” FFA chief David Gallop said after the arrests were made. “We provided information to Victoria Police within 24 hours of receiving an alert from our international betting integrity monitoring agents. We’re determined to keep football clean. Alongside other sports bodies in Australia and globally, we must eradicate corrupt behaviour from sport. The arrests today show that the integrity measures put in place by FFA are working to detect illegal betting activity.”

Chris Eaton, former security director at FIFA and now playing a prominent role with the Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security. warned that the arrests were “abject proof of the endemic nature of corruption in football”.

“The issue of corrupting players is so internationalised and so normalised, football needs something drastic to overcome what is a massive problem for the sport,” he said.

“It is absolutely shocking. It also shows how arrogant and how fearless these people are.”

Match made in heaven

Russian gas company Gazprom has officially became a FIFA partner.

The deal will run from 2015 through 2018, the year Russia hosts the World Cup.

At the signing ceremony, Russian President Putin, perhaps recognising a kindred spirit in FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, was full of praise for football’s governing body.

“We have discussed for a long time, or rather you [Blatter] have discussed with Gazprom, one of our leading companies, how you can work together, not only in the light of World Cup preparations, but generally with FIFA support,” he said.

“The work you do is undoubtedly very important. I would even call it noble, because unlike many other associations that simply proclaim nice and well-intentioned goals, you actually work to achieve them and realise them. This has simply no precedent in humanitarian spheres and is of great value.”

Blatter was similarly effusive about the role of Gazprom saying: “We are aware of the many humanitarian and social projects that this Russian company has implemented. I am convinced that this is a good partnership that will not only help World Cup preparations, but also serve us well afterwards.”

Anyone who thinks that Blatter talks a lot of hot air – and that will be anyone who had ever heard him speak – will appreciate the choice of Gazprom, the world’s largest producer of gas, as an official FIFA partner.

Mission accomplished

In the wake of the suspension of Genoa youth team coach, Luca De Pra, after he was caught spying on local rivals Sampdoria while they trained, all eyes were on Sunday’s deby match between the two Genoa-based sides.

Looking at the result, a 3-0 win for Genoa, it was tempting to conclude that this was a case of mission accomplished for the home side. Genoa had previously endured a disappointing start to the new season, losing their opening two league games , as well as being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Serie B outfit Spezia. Pressure was mounting on rookie coach Fabio Liverani, but the crushing victory will have brought the new man some much needed breathing space.

As for the alleged spy, Genoa continue to deny that they knew anything about the covert activities of De Pra, who was found hiding in a bush at Sampdoria’s training ground hours before the derby game.

Genoa said in a statement: “No director or member of the coaching staff sent Luca De Pra to watch the training session at Bogliasco. It was a personal initiative. This has never been done before and is not part of the club’s modus operandi. The club makes it known that De Pra has been suspended with immediate effect pending further explanations.”

Prior to the game, Sampdoria could only see the funny side of the incident.

“That the derby is a question of nerve, tactics and strategy we already knew, but frankly we could never expect that it could turn into an scene of espionage,” a club statement read.

“Like Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill, Luca De Pra, Genoa goalkeeping coach and man of noble footballing ancestry, failed to overcome Sampdoria’s intelligence and counter intelligence operations.

“However, no prisoners were taken, and no blood was shed. Once tracked down and caught red-handed, the opposing side’s soldier was let free to return to base. You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more.”

Calciopoli revisited

Retired referee Mark Halsey’s revelations that he broke the protocol set out by the Professional Game and Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) has raised questions within the football community about his impartiality, and evoked comparisons with Italy’s infamous Calciopoli scandal.

In his book Added Time, Halsey spoke about an occasion when he asked former Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, to defend fellow referee Mark Clattenburg over allegations that the official had called Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel “a monkey”.

“I took matters in my own hands and rang Sir Alex asking him to speak out,” said Halsey.

“He agreed and used his Friday press conference to say he could not conceive of Mark saying such things. It helped the situation a great deal.”

Halsey added: “It took time to gain Sir Alex Ferguson’s respect but in the end we had a very good relationship.”

He went on to insist: “One thing should be made clear about my relationship with Sir Alex.

“I may have spoken to him a lot and shared texts but he knew when I crossed that white line there were no favours.

“Players and managers would not respect you if you gave decisions based on friendship.”

It’s difficult to know whether to take Halsey’s claims at face value. One would assume that if these messages had been exchanged, the first people to hear about them would have been phone-tapping journalists from the Sun. There’s no way they would have kept them under wraps.

Goal of the day

An astonishing long range effort from Manuel Da Costa in Sivasspor 3-2 win over Eskisehirspor.

Quote of the day

“Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo were born on the same day, February 5. But at Neymar’s age, Cristiano Ronaldo was a mediocre player. Right now, he only surpasses Neymar when it comes to his weight.”

Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, responds to Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes claim, that “there is no way Neymar is as good as Ronaldo”.

Friend in need…

Eric Abidal has revealed that former Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves offered to give him his liver prior to his transplant.

The pair became firm friends during their time at Camp Nou and the Brazilian has dropped his usual shirt number to adopt Abidal’s old number 22 this season, as a mark of respect to his close companion.

“My relationship with Dani goes much further than him taking my old No.22 shirt,” Abidal told Catalunya Radio.

“When I had to undergo surgery, he offered to donate his liver.

“Of course, it’s completely out of the question because he is a professional footballer. Our relationship goes much deeper than friendship.”

The Monaco captain also revealed attempts by Pep Guardiola to take him to Germany and join him at Bayern Munich, only for the European champions to block any moves on medical grounds.

“Guardiola wanted me to join him at Bayern, I won’t deny that,” said Abidal.

“What happened is that it’s not really up to him. It’s a complicated matter and more so because of my health issues.

“Bayern’s directors and medical staff didn’t want to take that risk which I fully understand. But I understood the gesture perfectly.”

Glad to be gay

Professional players across Britain will be asked to wear rainbow-coloured laces in their boots next weekend in support of a campaign to tackle homophobia in football.

Of the 5,000 or so players across the top leagues inEngland, Scotland and Wales none are openly gay, prompting gay rights charity Stonewall to suggest that players are afraid to ‘come out’ because of the detrimental impact it could have on their careers.

Bookmakers Paddy Power are supporting the campaign which has the slogan “Right Behind Gay Footballers“. Sets of rainbow-coloured laces will be distributed to the 134 professional clubs in Britain.

“It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game,” said Stonewall’s deputy chief executive Laura Doughty.

“By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players.”

Homophobia is still rife, according to a report compiled earlier this year by Brighton and Hove Albion’s Supporters’ Club and the Gay Football Supporters’ Network.

Brighton has one of Britain’s largest gay communities, leading to regular homophobic abuse from opposing fans during matches.

“Brighton fans have been the subject of “banter” about the city’s gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember,” a statement from the Brighton Supporters’ Club said in April.

“It wouldn’t be described as “banter” if the taunts and chants were about skin colour and something would have been done by now to stop it.”

Not the Marin kind

Fans of Spanish club Sevilla have vowed to find a bride for Marko Marin, in a bid to persuade the on loan player to extend his stay at the club beyond this season.

Marin, 24, was loaned to Sevilla by this summer after failing to nail down to a place in the first team at Stamford Bridge.

But since arriving at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan Stadium, Marin has become a favourite with a series of impressive displays leading to supporters to come up with a novel strategy to convince him to stay, according to German newspaper Bild.

The paper claims that Sevilla fans will attempt to find Marin an Spanish fiancé that will persuade him to remain in the country and sign for the club.

Supporters were inspired by the fact that Sevilla captain Ivan Rakitic married a local girl and has settled down in the city despite offers to move to other European clubs.

Finally…

Milan forward Kaka has decided against receiving his wages until he returns to full fitness.

The Brazil international was injured during the second half of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Torino – his first competitive game since he moved back to Italy after a four-year spell at Real Madrid.

“Yesterday was a tough day for me as I found out about my injury,” he told acmilan.com.

“I certainly didn’t expect this type of injury at this time. It has been hard and difficult.

“I spoke to the club a lot yesterday, to (vice-president Adriano) Galliani and to the doctors to decide on a few things.

“I have decided that I don’t want anything from Milan except their (moral) support and affection.

“Until I am fit again and ready to play, I have decided not to receive my wages.

“I have already started the recovery process.

“The affection I have felt in recent days gives me the added motivation to get fit as soon as possible.”

The sacrifice made by Kaka will endear himself further to the Milan faithful, who were already enamoured of him following his decision to accept a 45 per cent salary cut when he rejoined from Real Madrid in the summer.

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