April 3, 2013

2013 AFC Cup : Referees dropped over match-fixing fears in Singapore

2013 AFC Cup : Referees dropped over match-fixing fears in Singapore

Three Lebanese football officials have been dropped from refereeing an AFC Cup match in Singapore and are helping the country’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) with their enquiries, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said on Wednesday.

Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were taken to the CPIB early on Wednesday, the FAS said, and replacement officials from Thailand and Malaysia took charge of the match between Tampines Rovers and East Bengal of India later in the day.

“Singapore and FAS have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to matchfixing and football corruption,” the FAS said in a statement released shortly before the match was due to kick-off. We take a serious view of allegations pertaining to matchfixing and football corruption activities and the authorities and FAS will spare no effort in minimising the possibility of such activities taking place within the local football scene.”

The FAS said it had contacted the Asian Football Confederation immediately and replacement officials were sent to cover the match in the region’s second-tier international club tournament.

The AFC  would not comment on the situation.

The CPIB, a government law-enforcement body that is separate from the regular police, confirmed it had spoken with the three officials.
“We adopt a zero tolerance approach towards corruption, and matchfixing of any form is not condoned in Singapore,” the body said in an email to Reuters.

A CPIB spokesman declined to comment when asked if the three officials were still being questioned or if their passports had been impounded.

Sabbagh has been an international referee since 2008 and has taken charge of World Cup qualifiers in Asia in recent times.  He officiated in Nepal’s 2-1 win over East Timor in a second-round qualifying match in June 2011 and Oman’s win over Myanmar.

While no arrests have been made, the incident and mere mention of matchfixing by the two organisations is sure to unsettle fans of the world’s most popular sport in two countries which have suffered heavily in recent times.

Source : Reuters


  1. Did you hear more after this message?

    I would like to know if the referees stepped to the authorities because they got contacted for match fixing or if the authoroties arrested them because they are a suspect.

    Interviewed him earlier this year on Dutch Referee Blog: http://www.dutchreferee.com/lebanese-referee-ali-sabbagh-wants-to-reach-the-world-cup/

    1. http://news.asiaone.com/print/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Crime/Story/A1Story20130406-414051.html