Update from Wednesday, July 2
FIFA has issued a short response to the recent match-fixing investigation launched by Cameroon's football federation in relation to allegations made against several of its players.
The Telegraph's Henry Winter provided the brief update:
Fifa on #WorldCup match-fixing claims: "We have found no evidence on the betting market of manipulation of matches"— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) July 2, 2014
Richard Conway of BBC Sport passes along information FIFA is requesting:
Cameroon match-fixing: Fifa ask Der Spiegel to provide "communications with Perumal + any other material in order to prove the allegations"— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) July 2, 2014
The ethics committee of Cameroon's football federation has announced it is investigating claims that "seven bad apples" from the national team may have been involved in match-fixing at the World Cup.
As reported by BBC Sport, the African nation's governing body has been forced into an immediate response after a "convicted match-fixer" spoke of Cameroon's downfall at the tournament—which included three losses—in a German newspaper.
Cameroon's FA gave the following statement:
Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon's 2014 Fifa World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon versus Croatia, as well of the 'existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]' do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with Fifa's code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.
The country's federation said it intends to "resolve this disruptive matter in the shortest delays." While FIFA decided against commenting on this particular investigation, the governing body did say, "We take any allegations of match manipulation very seriously," per BBC Sport.
Jamie Trecker of Fox Soccer weighed in on the allegations:
Allegations of match-fixing in Cameroon-Croatia match. Sad, also very predictable. Speculated on that at the time. Suspicious to my eyes.— Jamie Trecker (@JamieTreckerFOX) July 1, 2014
Agence France-Presse (via Yahoo Eurosport) indicated the situation arose after a Singaporean match-fixer predicted Cameroon's 4-0 loss to Croatia before it took place on June 18, while also indicating an Indomitable Lions player would be red-carded in the first half.
Alex Song was dismissed five minutes before half-time for elbowing Mario Mandzukic in the back, an incident which appeared to arise from nothing. On Twitter, Yahoo Singapore posted an image of the match-fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal:
However, Perumal issued a statement denying the claims via investigative reporting site Invisible Dog:
Contrary to the 'revelations' published by the German weekly Der Spiegel that were picked up by news outlets worldwide, I did not predict the result of the Cameroon vs Croatia match played on June 18, 2014.
The Facebook chat with the Der Spiegel journalist took place a few days after the match - June 21st, as confirmed by my Facebook log - and was but an informal assessment of the behavior of the Cameroon team at the Brazil 2014 World Cup after they had played two of their three group stage matches, including the one with Croatia.
At no time did I make reference to four goals being scored or to a red card being issued. At no time did I suggest that I had any way of corroborating or substantiating what was meant to be an educated guess based on my extensive match-fixing experience. Last but not least: at no time was I informed by the Der Spiegel journalist that our chat was going to end up in the German publication.
I am shocked and amazed that a respected magazine such as Der Spiegel would go so far as to fabricate statements by yours truly with the visible aim of stirring the row over match-fixing. I apologize to the Cameroon FA and to its fans if I inadvertently offended them; it was not my intention. I strongly believe that Der Spiegel should also do the same since they placed words in my mouth that I did not utter.
Following the release of my match-fixing memoir "Kelong Kings" there has been a lot of media hype on the subject of manipulation in football. Kelong Kings has lifted the veil on over three decades of match-fixing at all levels of the game, including World Cup Qualifiers, Olympic matches and the 2010 World Cup warm-up friendlies played in South Africa. Kelong Kings has even prompted FIFA, via the NY Times, to release a report that it had kept in a drawer for two years in a late, clumsy attempt to make the revelations contained in Kelong Kings their own.
I am now back in Hungary where I have testified against my former associates in a local match-fixing trial. Kelong Kings is an honest account of what my life has been like until today. I have now turned a new leaf and wish to put my expertise at the disposal of those willing to truly fight the scourge of match-fixing. When the time is ripe I will share what I know with FIFA and UEFA, but I will not accept that my statements be manipulated at the detriment of others.
Perumal's reported hit list of matches influenced spans the globe. FIFA believes he "is responsible for fixing matches in several countries, standing to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal profits," according to a report from Heidi Blake of The Daily Telegraph, published in 2011.
Initially jailed in 1995 for match-fixing, Perumal was also charged in 2000 for attacking a member of Singapore's Woodlands Wellington team in order to lessen their chances of winning. In 2009, he became a wanted man in the Asian nation after running over a police officer.
He is said to be linked with major match-fixing occurrences in Finland, which he may have initiated after fleeing Singapore and moving to England. In Kelong Kings, Perumal's book of memoirs, it is claimed he failed to bribe former Birmingham City goalkeeper Ian Bennett and Chelsea counterpart Dmitri Kharine, per Ben Rumsby of The Daily Telegraph.
Perumal also claims he helped Nigeria and Honduras reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa by rigging their qualifying matches, per Owen Gibson of The Guardian. Cameroon may be the next in line for the internationally recognised match-fixer.
Were Cameroon the worst team of the 2014 World Cup group stage?
The African nation were engulfed in a bonus payment dispute prior to the tournament and refused to fly to Brazil shortly before matches were to begin, as reported by The Guardian. Cameroon lost 1-0 to Mexico in their opening match, which saw Giovani dos Santos have two rightful goals ruled out. Five days after this came the Croatia match in which the team imploded its way to a 4-0 loss.
Song's red card appeared to be an act of stupidity. The experienced Barcelona man raked his elbow down the back of Mandzukic during an innocuous incident away from play, giving the referee no choice but to brandish a red card.
By the match's conclusion, Benoit Assou-Ekotto had headbutted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in another unsavoury moment away from the ball. Cameroon lost their final game 4-1 to hosts Brazil, thereby failing to register a single point throughout the competition.
Volker Finke's men put up little resistance in any of their displays. This certainly wasn't the energetic, grafting Cameroon style football fans have come to expect over the years, but it remains to be seen whether darker influences other than bad form infiltrated the squad.
Perumal's previous convictions and ongoing reputation ensures this matter will receive a speedy investigation. While neither Cameroon or Croatia progressed into the knockout stages, the tournament will be brought into disrepute if match-fixing is proven.