25th January 2019

Referee sanctioned with life ban for match-fixing

The Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee has sanctioned Ibrahim Chaibou, a former international referee, with a life ban after finding him guilty of accepting bribes. Chaibou refereed at two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification games in Africa during 2009, as well as two international friendlies in both 2010 and 2011. In 2011, FIFA began an investigation into Nigeria’s 4-1 victory over Argentina, an international friendly that took place on 1 June in Nigeria. Nigeria was leading 4-0 until the eighth minute of injury time, when Chaibou awarded a penalty to Argentina. Replays showed the ball had hit a Nigeria player’s shin, but it is understood that a large amount of money was placed on a fifth goal being scored in the match on Asian betting markets. 

It is understood that Chaibou was also involved in fixing other international friendlies in 2010 and 2011, although FIFA’s statement didn’t specify which games were concerned. In May 2010, South Africa beat Guatemala 5-0 in a FIFA World Cup warm-up game where Chaibou awarded three penalties for handball, two of which South Africa converted. Betting monitoring agencies told FIFA that there had been a spike in bets on at least three goals being scored in the game. In 2010, Bahrain beat Togo 3-0, however investigators discovered that the Togolese team were imposters. 

It is understood that both the above games were organised by the Football 4 U International agency, which was controlled by Wilson Raj Perumal and his associate, ‘Dan’ Tan Seet Eng. In South Africa’s 2-1 victory against Columbia, also in May 2010, all three goals also came from penalties.

In an interview (video below) with Al Jazeera in a programme called ‘Killing the Ball’, Perumal said that he had played a part in the qualification of five of the 32 teams that took part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He explained that Football 4 U International had been set up in 2009 to fix international friendly games for illegal bookmakers, and that he had fixed qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup.

In August last year, a South African court issued an attachment order compelling FIFA to hand over documentation relating to its decision to sanction Leslie Sedibe in relation to three friendly matches played by South Africa ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which an investigation found had been fixed. The former CEO of the South African Football Association (SAFA) launched the application in order to force a review of FIFA’s 2016 decision to sanction him with a five year ban. Sedibe has also launched a separate action seeking US$5 million in damages from FIFA for defamation.

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