An Indian and a foreign player of I-League club Minerva Punjab were offered bribes of up to Rs 30 lakh each in an alleged match-fixing attempt, the club’s owner Ranjit Bajaj said on Wednesday.
Bajaj did not disclose the names of the players. He added one of his players received a phone call on Tuesday night while another was approached via Facebook on Wednesday. The club reported the issue to All India Football Federation’s integrity officer Javed Siraj on Wednesday and they have also informed the Asian Football Confederation through their integrity app.
“Two of my players, an Indian and a foreigner, were approached by unscrupulous elements to fix matches. This was the first time such an incident was brought to my notice. We have informed the AIFF and AFC about it and also shared the screenshots with them,” Bajaj told The Indian Express.
2 of my players came to me with screenshots of match fixing offers of 30 lakhs/I reported it to Aiff integrity officer&also AFC thru their integrity app/really hope these unscrupulous elements are not successful in getting thru2other players and match officials @ILeagueOfficial pic.twitter.com/Hs28ljflvb
— Ranjit Bajaj (@THE_RanjitBajaj) 17 January 2018
Minerva are the surprise leaders of the I-League this season, having accumulated 22 points from 9 matches. They have a three-point lead over second-placed East Bengal and have a match in hand.
The details of the people who approached the players were not immediately known. Bajaj said the players were offered Rs 30 lakh for one match. “I don’t know how many players will be able to resist such offers… there are people trying to ruin the game with the lure of easy, big money. Hopefully, these elements are not successful in getting through to other players,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that there has been an attempt to fix matches in the I-League. In March 2013, Mumbai FC officials were offered ‘life-changing sums’ to lose matches by a Malaysian match-fixing syndicate.
The terms laid down to fix the match were simple: the team had to lose matches they were expected to win easily. Back then, four or five players of the team were approached over phone more than once. However, the players did not comply.