‘Almost impossible’ to stop match-fixing: Jailed referee
SINGAPORE (dpa) – Former FIFA referee T Rajamanickam shakes his head a number of times as he talks on Europol’s recent extensive disclosures of match-fixing in about 680 suspicious matches throughout the world.
“Why are they just harping on Singapore, when it’s been happening all over the globe for so many years?” asks the Singapore referee, who in 1994 was jailed for nine months after becoming the first international referee to be convicted for match-fixing.
Talking for the first time to dpa, in an exclusive interview, 62-year-old Rajamanickam, now a businessman, says most of the revelations by Europol were “true as there have been many reports of match-fixing” involving players, coaches and match-officials, in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Europol refused to name any suspected matches, players, officials or match-fixers, saying that would compromise national investigations.
As a result it remains unclear how much of the information is new or has already been revealed in trials across the continent.
Saying he had put his corrupt past behind him, Rajamanickam, who still serves a life ban from all football activities, said: “It’s almost impossible to stop match-fixing because as you cut off one ugly head, many others keep springing up because it is an uncontrollable disease.
“It will take concerted global action for many, many years to minimize the football corruption because it’s happening everywhere in the world. So I wonder why they (Europol) are just harping on Singapore?”
Citing an example, he says, the three largest gambling houses in Asia, IBCBET, SBOBET and 188BET, are all in Manila in the Philippines.
The negative focus on Singapore could, in Rajamanickam’s view, result from statements by Wilson Raj Perumal, a former Singapore amateur footballer who is reputed to be one of the world’s most notorious fixers.
He was recently jailed in Finland for match-fixing. Now a wanted man in Singapore, he is currently in preventive custody in Hungary.
“He has said many times, ‘I hold the key to the Pandora’s Box’, and has threatened to squeal names, places and matches. But one wonders if his words can be taken seriously because he is only a ‘runner’, a low-level field man, who is engaged by the big-time financiers and organizers,” Rajamanickam said.
Asked how to tackle the match-fixing syndicates, Rajamanickam, shakes his head a few times, and replies: “Sad to say it’s a global disease that has infiltrated a lot of leading sports.
“I think the only way to minimize this is through constant police action in many countries and also continuous education, of the younger players, of the dangers of falling victim to the match-fixers.
“The biggest message must be: Fix a match and you will be caught.”