Singapore. YouTube video links showing how easy it is to make a bad refereeing call in football were used in a bid by a Singapore businessman to fix games, a former Lebanese match official testified.
Ding Si Yang, 31, was charged with three counts of corruption in April for allegedly providing women to give free sexual services to three football officials in an attempt to fix an Asian Football Confederation Cup match. He faces as much as five years in jail and a S$100,000 ($79,000) fine on each corruption charge, if convicted.
Ali Sabbagh, the referee, and his assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb, pleaded guilty last month to accepting sex from the women provided by Ding. Singapore prosecutors said at the earlier trial they uncovered the case as they probed claims by Europe’s law enforcement agency that a syndicate based in the Asian city is involved in fixing soccer matches globally.
“In every football match, game officials are key to ensuring a fair result based on the abilities and skills of the football teams,” Alan Loh, the prosecutor, said at the start of Ding’s trial in a Singapore subordinate court on Monday. “In this case, the very officials who were meant to uphold sporting excellence and sportsmanship bartered away their professional integrity in return for free sexual services.”
The prosecution temporarily withdrew two other charges against Ding, relating to the concealing of a receipt issued by a law firm from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and failing to provide police with the password to his laptop, Loh said.
Last August, Ding sent Sabbagh an e-mail with about 25 links to YouTube video clips that showed how wrong decisions were made at soccer matches, said Sabbagh, the first prosecution witness, who said he knew Ding as James Zen.
“He wanted me to learn how to make these kind of decisions in my matches in the future,” said Sabbagh, who received a six-month jail term for corruption last month.
The three Lebanese men were scheduled to officiate an April 3 Asian Football Confederation Cup game in Singapore. They were replaced before the match between Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and East Bengal, which won 4-2 in a game that included an own goal by the Rovers.
Europol and police were investigating attempts to fix more than 380 games, including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, with involvement from a Singapore-based operation, Europe’s law enforcement agency said in February.
Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, in February arrested suspected match-fixer Admir Suljic with help from Singapore police, which said it sent four senior officials to Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France to join its Global Anti-Match Fixing task force. Singaporean Dan Tan Seet Eng is helping authorities in its probe into match-fixing, police said in February.
Football’s governing body, FIFA, also suspended people in Italy, South Korea and China in February for alleged involvement in rigging games.