Photo: WILSON RAJ PERUMAL- is a convicted match-fixer from Singapore with offences including forgery, assault and burglary on his record. He was jailed in his home country for match-fixing in 1995 and claims to have tried to fix British games that year. He later ran his empire from a one-bedroom flat in the shadow of Wembley stadium, rigging hundreds of matches around the world and making millions of dollars in the process. In February 2011 he was arrested in Finland and sentenced to two years in prison. WHERE IS HE NOW? After serving a year in a Finnish jail, he was released and turned over to authorities in Hungary, where he was wanted on further match-fixing charges. He is currently being held in jail in Debrecen.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based in Zurich. It has 209 member associations and its goal, enshrined in its Statutes, is the constant improvement of football. FIFA employs some 310 people from over 35 nations and is composed of a Congress (legislative body), Executive Committee (executive body), General Secretariat (administrative body) and committees (assisting the Executive Committee).
FIFA operates in line with principles, codes and regulations. FIFA does not operate in malice and hatred system. My assertion is based on Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo who is among 15 players and officials who have been suspended indefinitely over allegations of match-fixing. The three other players implicated are Ibrahim Koroma, Samuel Barlay and Christian Caulker. Three referees and another eight officials, including Rodney Michael, are the others to have been suspended. The allegations relate to a Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2008 which ended goalless. A media statement, jointly signed by sports minister Paul Kamara and Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) President Isha Johansen, said "credible and tangible information" had been received on the alleged involvement of the group in match-fixing.
Having looked at the whole issue, I’ve not been able to pick sense on the hasty decision taken by the Sierra Leone’s Sports Minister Paul Kamara and Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) president Isha Johansen to suspend some of our national players and some football stakeholders ahead of the Seychelles match slated for Saturday 19th July, 2014 for the Morocco 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. I am very bemused over their action.
My questions now are: does the Sports Ministry and SLFA follow the FIFA Guidelines before taken such decision? Do they really have evidence for such allegations? Is the renowned match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal saying the right thing or the ministry reacted out of hatred or malice? Has the ministry and SLFA implemented the May 2014 FIFA Edition Specific Recommendations to Combat Match Manipulation before taken such action?
According to the 63rd FIFA Congress in May 2013, FIFA member association delegates were presented with a thorough report on FIFA’s ongoing fight against the scourge of match manipulation, an undeniable global threat to the integrity of football. Member associations (MAs) were called upon to implement their own national integrity initiatives with FIFA’s guidance and support and told that by joining together, the football community could send out a powerful signal of immutable commitment and protection against the threat from organised crime and others trying to damage sport. MAs were called upon to collectively strengthen the collaboration within the football community by enhancing the exchange of information and best practices, overcoming loopholes in existing legislation, improving legal and judicial cooperation, ensuring that administrative systems with appropriate and effective legal means were established, as well as raising awareness by continuing to educate players, referees and officials by establishing preventive measures and relevant training programmes.
FIFA President Blatter stated that FIFA and its MAs could not act alone in their efforts to eradicate match manipulation, but that it was essential for MAs to cooperate with the relevant police and governmental authorities in each country in order to combat match manipulation. The Congress fully backed the FIFA President with overwhelming approval for renewed calls for MAs to take steps towards establishing a national integrity initiative, to seek more help from governments and law enforcement authorities, and to seek guidance and support to combat match manipulation through the five pillars of FIFA’s integrity initiative: prevention, risk management, information gathering, investigations and sanctions.
Specifically, effective measures must be taken by MAs to combat match manipulation and to ensure its disruption, through awareness-raising initiatives, education, fact-finding inquiries or investigations, prosecution and disciplinary sanctioning. MAs must be committed to developing anti-match manipulation tools, powers of inquiry and investigation, appropriate legal standings, and other organisational mechanisms for tackling manipulated matches beyond purely reactive measures.
Similarly, a dedicated person/party within the MA must be appointed, and in coordination with the appropriate legal committee should seek the amendment of MA regulations, and where possible engage stakeholders to pursue national legislation to effectively standardise national regulations to combat match manipulation.
During the meeting, specific recommendations for the sustainable development of a tailored national integrity initiative were made. The recommendations aim to form structures with corresponding procedural guidelines to effectively handle incidents of match manipulation. All MA’s should use the FIFA Specific Recommendations to Combat Match Manipulation which should form the basis of a concrete and effective structure within MAs, as well as further defining the scope of the responsible persons empowered by these recommendations. The FIFA recommendations should also be used as guidelines for drafting MA’s own national regulations to combat match manipulation.
The fight against match manipulation should be collective and sustainable through all levels of football structures.It is clear that the world of football is under threat from organised crime and others attempting to corrupt players, referees and other officials in order to unduly influence football matches. The football community must be united in response. All stakeholders must be involved. All must feel a sense of responsibility for action. There must be a holistic approach, collectively employed with the will and commitment to fight against corruption and to safeguard the integrity of football.
But in the execution of such act, football stakeholders most follow the right paths. Has the Sports Ministry and SLFA put all these systems in place? The answer a big no!
It’s believed that Football should be allowed to be administered as an independent social activity, and it should not have the direct interference of national politics.
“Football's strength comes from within, thus only with the participation of our 209 member associations and the six confederations can the beauty of the game be protected…” says Jeröme Valcke Secretary General FIFA.
Mysierraleoneonline.com is calling for the implementation of the FIFA recommended codes in the handling of match fixing. We are also asking for Interpol to be independent in their investigation and let the truth be revealed. As the country is currently battling with the Ebola virus, we don’t want this issue of match fixing smear the image of our country to FIFA and the outside world.
By: Sallieu Sesay: Mysierraleoneonline.com