FIFA expressed “substantial doubts” Wednesday about a German magazine’s claims that a World Cup game could have been fixed and asked it to provide evidence to back up its report.
FIFA said it has asked Der Spiegel to provide details of all its conversations with convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal to prove its claim that Cameroon’s 4-0 loss to Croatia may have been fixed.
“The article has put the integrity of FIFA World Cup matches in question, which is a serious allegation,” FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said in a statement read out at a daily briefing by spokeswoman Delia Fischer.
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FIFA said it had no indication from betting markets that any of the 56 games so far at the World Cup had been manipulated.
It said it had “substantial doubts” about weekly magazine Der Spiegel’s claim that Perumal told it in an online chat hours before the Cameroon-Croatia group game on June 18 that he knew what was going to happen.
Der Spiegel said that Perumal _ a Singaporean who is arguably the best-known fixer in football _ correctly predicted that Croatia would win 4-0 and Cameroon would have a player sent off in the first half. Cameroon midfielder Alex Song was red-carded just before halftime.
Perumal denied he made any such prediction, saying in a statement that his Facebook chat with a Der Spiegel reporter about Cameroon’s team took place three days after the game and not hours before it, as the magazine said.
The authors of Perumal’s biography sent copies of the chat to The Associated Press where it was dated June 21.
The Der Spiegel reporter whose name was published with the story, Rafael Buschmann, insisted the report was accurate, writing in an email to the AP: “We firmly stand by our assertion that Mr Perumal wrote in a Facebook chat with der Spiegel some hours before the world cup match Croatia vs Cameroon, that the result of the match will be a 4-0-victory for Croatia and that a player of Cameroon will get a red card in the first halftime.”
Buschmann didn’t respond to phone calls and emails to also provide copies of the conversation.
The story grabbed attention because of Perumal’s match-fixing history. He was jailed in Finland for paying players to fix games and is suspected of fixing games in other continents, including Africa.
He is believed to be behind fixed matches involving South Africa’s national team in the weeks before the last World Cup in 2010, where corrupt referees are thought to have manipulated the games for illegal betting syndicates.
Der Spiegel’s claims even prompted the Cameroon football federation to open an official investigation into possible match-fixing by its players. Perumal did say in the Facebook chat that seven Cameroon players were “rotten apples” and the team was “on the take.” However, in his later statement he said that was only an “educated guess.”
Cameroon lost all three of its games at the World Cup: 1-0 to Mexico, 4-0 to Croatia and 4-1 to host Brazil.
FIFA said that, so far, no game at the World Cup had raised suspicions.
“As mentioned on various occasions, FIFA has carefully monitored all 56 games to date and will continue to monitor the remaining eight matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” Mutschke’s statement said. “So far, we have found no indication of any match manipulation on the betting market in relation to any of the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches.”
FIFA asked Der Spiegel for “all their communications with Perumal and any other material they claim to possess in order to prove the allegation they have made in public.”
Former France and Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier, who is a member of FIFA’s technical study group, also said that group had seen no indication of fixing at the World Cup.