Sports News of 2014-06-23

Match-fixing scandal hangs over Ghana

...after Undercover Investigation
... GFA said it asked Ghana police to investigate
The President of Ghana's Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi, was exposed after he was filmed agreeing to the team playing in rigged international matches, in return for payment of $170,000 per match.

The Telegraph and Channel 4's Dispatches launched a six-month investigation into match-fixing, after receiving information that suggested that some football associations were working with criminal gangs to rig scores in international games.

Reporters from The Telegraph went under cover, claiming to represent an investment company that wanted to "sponsor" matches during the tournament.
Christopher Forsythe, a registered Fifa agent and Obed Nketiah, a senior figure in the Ghanaian FA, reportedly bragged about employing corrupt officials who would rig matches played by Ghana.

The president of the country's football association then met the undercover reporter and finalised a contract which would see the team play in the rigged matches, in return for payment.

The contract stated that it would cost $170,000 (£100,000) for each match organised by the fixers involving the Ghanaian team, and would allow the bogus investment firm to appoint match officials and referees.

"You [the company] will always have to come to us and say how you want it to go...the result," said Mr Forsythe. "That's why we will get the officials that we have greased their palms, so they will do it. If we bring in our own officials to do the match...You're making your money."

FIFA agent Christoipher Forsythe (r.) and Ghanaian FA official Obed Nketiah (l.) meet with undercover reporters from The Telegraph, reportedly to discuss fixing games involving Ghana's national team

"You have to give them [the referees] something... they are going to do a lot of work for you, so you have to give them something," said Mr Nketiah.

Mr Forsythe said that match fixing was "everywhere" in football and that he could even arrange rigged matches between Ghana and British teams. "The referees can change the matches every time. Even in England it does happen," he said. "We will always choose associations/countries that we think we can corrupt their officials for all our matches."

Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah then introduced the undercover reporters to Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana FA, at a five-star hotel in Miami earlier this month shortly before his team played South Korea in Miami before heading to Brazil.

During the meeting in Florida, the president agreed to a contract that stated each match would cost the investment company $170,000 and that they could appoint the match officials for each game. A contract was drawn up that specified that “The Company will appoint and pay for the cost of the referees/match officials in consultation with an agreed Fifa Member association(s),” in direct breach of the rules that prohibit third parties from appointing officials, in order to protect their impartiality. During the meeting, the president suggested that the fictional investment company put on two matches after the World Cup to prove that they were able to organise games.

?“So why don’t you arrange matches?” said Mr Nyantakyi. “Let’s say there should be an experimental period for us to see how we do your work? There is an opportunity in August, and then in December, but I don’t know about that. But these months appear to be the only time that we can have any opportunity to play friendly games.”

When a reporter asked if the president was happy with the contract, as long as it reflected the experimental period he had requested, he replied, “Yeah these are the issues that I’ve got with it.”

“So we can work on that with a trial game?” asked the investigator.

“Yeah,” replied the president.

When they were later confronted about their operation, both Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah denied any involvement in a plot to fix matches. Mr Nketiah said: "These are false allegations and I will never in my life do such a thing."

Mr Nyantakyi said that he had not read the contract and he did not know about the deal to fix games. He said that the proposed match would have been handled by a licensed Fifa match agent and that he was unaware that Mr Forsythe had demanded £30,000 for the football association.

Issuing a statement Mr Forsythe, said: "To be frank everything I told you about the match fixing was a figment of my own imagination because I am so naive that I don't even know how matches are done. They were promises just to be able to get something off you."

The Ghanaian FA announced it has asked the Ghana Police Service to investigate Mr Forsythe and Mr Nketiah for "misrepresenting the GFA with an attempt to defraud".

The football body has also reported the matter to FIFA and CAF.

In a statement, it said: "We wish to assure the public that we will not tolerate such misrepresentations and we will seek strong sanctions against such individuals if such claims are found to be true."

Last week saw the first convictions of criminals in the UK for attempting to rig football matches, following an earlier investigation by this newspaper.
Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, businessmen from Singapore, and Michael Boateng, a former professional footballer, were found guilty of match–fixing after a six-week trial.

Sankaran and Ganeshan were sentenced to five years and Boateng 18 months. Sankaran and Ganeshan were found to have links to the notorious international match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, and were said to be attempting to establish a network of corrupt footballers in Britain.

Instances of match fixing ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa had prompted FIFA and its partners in the betting and law enforcement agencies to monitor all friendlies ahead of this World Cup.

Snippet of Video: Watch 'How to fix a football match', UK Channel 4 Dispatches, 7.30pm on 23 June 2014.

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