Gold Cup match fixing claims

FIFA head of security Chris Eaton has told Sports Illustrated that his organization is investigating suspicious betting patterns at several matches in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“There has been information that some matches in the Gold Cup were manipulated,” Eaton told SI. “We worked with CONCACAF at the time, and CONCACAF have been very interested in following up any information that can be revealed in the future on that.”

FIFA is most interested in the Gold Cup matches played by Cuba and Grenada, and they are also investigating El Salvador’s 5-0 defeat to Mexico. Grenada lost their three matches by a combined 15-1, raising concerns, and Cuba lost their three by a combined 16-1.

FIFA said the activity in those matches showed “incredibly unusual and extreme” betting patterns with 5-10 times the normal in-game action being staked in Asia.

A leading betting-industry insider told SI that the games involving Grenada and Cuba stood out: “It was the sort of thing where we sat around and said, ‘Yeah, this looks like it’s a 99 percent chance that it’s bent.'”

Good to see the ‘insider’ speaking a language the lay person can understand.

Lyon deny match fixing

While FIFA continue their investigations, UEFA have announced that they have no concerns about the integrity of Lyon’s remarkable 7-1 Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday. The margin of victory meant that the French side qualified for the knockout stages at the expense of the Dutch champions Ajax.

Meanwhile, Lyon have threatened legal action against the Dutch club after they insinuated that the match in Zagreb looked suspicious.

An official statement from Lyon read: “Hurt by the defeat and elimination, the Amsterdam club are trying to find an explanation elsewhere – as witnessed by the distressing statements made by the club’s leaders as reported by a news agency – such as conspiracy theories or worse the result of corruption.

“This is detrimental and unacceptable for OL, its players, its supporters and the fans in general. Ajax are free to solicit all the checks in the world, but the Dutch club must know that Lyon will defend itself through every means, until the appropriate compensation is sought for the damage caused, and for every defamatory insinuation that affected the integrity and honour of its sports team, its staff and its fans.”

Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas

As match fixing rears its ugly head again, news comes of Turkey’s parliament planning to override a presidential veto and approve a reduction in prison terms for corruption.

The country’s ruling and two main opposition parties say they will again vote for the new reduced term of a maximum three years in prison later today. Parliament first voted for the changes earlier this month, only eight months after it approved sentences of up to 12 years for anyone convicted of fixing games.

President Abdullah Gul, a lifelong Besiktas fan, vetoed it on the grounds that it was giving “the impression of a special arrangement” to save suspects in the recent match-fixing scandal, including Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim.

Vidic out for the season

It never rains but it pours in Manchester. But enough about the weather, Manchester United have received a blow with the news that defender Nemanja Vidic has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The defender twisted his knee during the first half of Wednesday’s Champions League loss to Swiss club FC Basel and was carried off on a stretcher.

“Nemanja is out for the season,” United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said. “It is bad news. He will be a loss.”

Still, to keep the weather metaphor alive, every cloud…in the wake of United’s Champions League exit, at least Vidic won’t be missing any big games this season.

Goal of the day

Athletic Bilbao earned a 1-0 away win at Oviedo in the SpanishCup, courtesy of Oscar de Marcos. The winger cut inside on his right foot and fired past the flailing keeper.

Fast and furious

Harry Kewell admits he has struggled to adapt to life in Australia’s A-League, calling the standard of football a “rude awakening”.

“It’s been difficult. The league is not as easy as everyone made it out to be,” he told reporters, having scored just one goal in his seven appearances so far this season for Melbourne Victory.

“It’s a tough league. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s strong, it’s quick, so it’s for me to adapt to that. This has probably been a big learning curve for me, coming from Europe back home to play in the league.

“I’ve been hearing about (it) for the past six years that it’s not like this or that. I’ve had a rude awakening,” he added.

“It’s completely the opposite. It’s quick, it’s strong, sometimes the passes are not as crisp as European passes but the thought is there.”

Having spent a decade in the Premier League, it should feel like a home from home for Kewell.

On the move

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has again stated that his side are hopeful of signing Carlos Tevez on loan in January, but admitted that Paris St Germain have entered the race to sign the Argentina international.

“We know City’s desire is to the sell the player, our proposal is to loan him and hope City say yes,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I can certainly say the player would prefer to be at Milan but you have to convince City to send him out on loan and that’s not easy.”

City, understandably, given Tevez’s conduct in recent months, are less keen on a loan deal and would prefer a clean break.

Getting off lightly

Yet more evidence that it’s not just a few bad apples that are spoiling FIFA, but the entire rotting barrel, comes with an announcement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

IOC member and head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou, has been reprimanded by the global governing body after admitting to having received payments from former FIFA marketing partner ISL.

Hayatou, who admitted he had received 100,000 French francs from ISL in 1995 for the 40th anniversary of the CAF, can consider himself fortunate to receive merely a slap on the wrist for his transgression.

“Issa Hayatou personally received a cash payment from ISL, which was, at that time, a marketing partner of FIFA, of which he was vice-president,” stated the IOC.

The Ethics Commission added that documents provided by Hayatou could “not guarantee that the payments were indeed made into the CAF accounts”.

Could not guarantee? The evidence indicates that the payments went nowhere near the CAF accounts.

Closing the gap?

Just over 24 hours until the first of this season’s eagerly-awaited Clasico matches. Real Madrid host reigning champions Barcelona at the Bernabeu with manager Jose Mourinho believing his side have edged closer to their arch-rivals.

The statistics do indeed bear this out. Real have won their last 10 league games – and their last 15 in all competitions, equalling a club record – and lead Barça by three points with roughly a third of the season played and with a game in hand.

“You never know – in football there are always surprises,” said Mourinho. “But right now we feel more confident and we are a better team than last season.”

Meanwhile, for Pep Guardiola’s much-lauded side, signs of vulnerability have begun to appear, especially away from home, where they have managed only two victories in six matches, scoring eight and conceding seven.

“It’s true that Madrid are in good shape,” conceded skipper Xavi. “They are a bit better but that does not mean anything. The Clásicos have nothing to do with statistics and anything can happen.”


The FA have felt compelled to explain themselves to Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, following their decision to support Wayne Rooney’s appeal against a three-match international ban.

Dalglish was attempting to highlight an inconsistency in the way the FA treated Rooney and the way they treated his own players, in particular, striker Luis Suarez.

“I find it a bit strange the FA are supposed to be setting an example yet they appeal Rooney’s ban,” Dalglish said. “I don’t know how they justify it.”

Dalglish suggested that had Rooney had been judged on the FA’s own rules, a three-match suspension would have been automatic. All very well, until one realises that Rooney was charged under UEFA rules which differ from those of the English FA.

The FA stated: “A standard formula encompassing a fixed-penalty sanction is applied across the game by the FA.

“UEFA chooses to operate a different process, under which each sanction is determined individually.”

Or to look at it another way: Rooney’s original suspension wold have meant him missing 50 per cent of the possible matches at Euro 2012. An equivalent suspension for Suarez would see him sitting out 19 Premier League games. Actually, as the charge list against the Uruguayan continues to grow, that might turn out to be a conservative estimate.