At least five friendly games were fixed just before the 2010 South African World Cup, according to a New York Times investigation released Saturday.
The report is centered on a classified FIFA investigation into the South African Football Federation and claims they worked with a notorious match-fixing firm in Singapore called Football 4U. The firm provided referees for at least five exhibition matches, who would make shaky calls throughout the game. A game between the United States and Australia is also under investigation.
FIFA has not outwardly accused anyone of match-fixing in South Africa, however the findings of the investigation “inevitably leads to the conclusion” that at least some federation employees “were complicit in a criminal conspiracy to manipulate these matches,” the report said.
What’s more, even though FIFA is aware of the corruption, almost no measures have been taken to prevent fixing in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. The Times article points out that many countries competing in Brazil are vulnerable to bribes and fixing.
“They are financially shaky, in administrative disarray and politically divided,” the article said.
Football is expensive, and there is much money to be made in match fixing. Most bets are placed on the number of goals scored or which team will win against the spread.
In one example from the FIFA report, Ibrahim Chaibou, a referee who worked for Football 4U made $60,000 for fixing a game between South Africa and Guatemala. During that game, Chaibou awarded each team penalty kicks for hand balls, when there were clearly no hands involved at all. South Africa won that game 5-0.
According to FIFA rules, only national federations can appoint referees and Football 4U does not qualify as such.
FIFA claims the investigation is ongoing, however the New York Times found that no one has been barred from the sport or even accused of match-rigging. This might lead to “problems that could now shadow this month’s World Cup.”
Read the full report here.