Asian football chiefs push for Integrity Officers

Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Asian Football Confederation has ordered member associations to appoint integrity officers in a renewed bid to tackle corruption and match-fixing in the region.

The call has been prompted by a series of recent incidents, including the expulsion of the Vissai Ninh Binh team from the Vietnam domestic league after players admitted being paid to fix a match.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa told a Football Integrity and Security summit in Doha last week "when talking about integrity in football, the fight against match-fixing rises as top a priority."

In a statement on its website Tuesday, the AFC said it has set a deadline of June 30 for its members to appoint integrity officers.

"Responsibilities of the integrity officer are to establish and maintain integrity initiatives within the (member associations), receive information related to match-fixing matters within ... and conduct inquiries or investigations as an administrative fact finder in coordination with AFC and relevant national law enforcement agencies," the statement said. "Match-fixing is a dangerous threat to the game, therefore the AFC along with its member associations strive to protect the integrity of its competitions."

Australian media this week published claims reportedly made in a book by Singaporean convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal that he had influenced the outcome of a 2010 friendly between Australia and Egypt, which Egypt won 3-0.

FIFA, football's world governing body, has linked Perumal to a conspiracy to fix matches in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central and South America.

Perumal, who has spent time in prisons in Singapore and Finland, was arrested in Helsinki last month on an international arrest warrant.

In cases reported this week by Fairfax Media and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Perumal wrote that he had "arranged" the appointment of a Bulgarian referee to the match between Australia and Egypt, then profited by betting there would be three goals scored in the match. Egypt's third goal was a penalty.

Former Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who played in the match at Cairo, told the ABC he was suspicious of the match at the time.

Perumal also claims he caused a 2008 Intercontinental Cup match between the Australia and Togo under-23 teams to be called off after halftime when wagers of around $70,000 were under threat.

Football Federation Australia responded to the reports this week by saying the cases had nothing to do with Australian players and declined further comment.

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