A Nigerian agent has been caught claiming on camera that he could arrange for players getting yellow or red cards at the World Cup starting in just over a week. The boast comes just days after investigations were opened into allegations of fixing in a friendly between Nigeria and Scotland in London.
Henry Chukwuma Okoroji was filmed telling Mazher Mahmood, in an undercover sting by the newspapers Sun on Sunday, that some of the players going to the World Cup from the Nigeria team were willing to pick up yellow or red cards for 50,000 Euros and 1,00,000 Euros respectively. He also claimed to have two players on his payroll and through a senior official close to the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), also had the ability to influence team selection at the finals.
The sting was filmed in a Milan — Okoroji now lives in Italy — hotel room in early April. In it, Okoroji and an associate try increasing their credibility by inviting current Lazio and Nigeria player Ogenyi and Onazi without suggesting the player was involved.
“Hundred per cent, two players. It’s left up to you people what you want to do. You people will pay for a yellow or a red card or a penalty,” the agent said.
“Most of them will do it because they don’t pay them good in Nigeria.” He was also sure the approaches would never reach FIFA’s ears. He said: “Never. Nigeria . never, never, never! 100% because I have someone already do this type of thing.”
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Okoroji claimed to to have Italian on his rolls to have fixed matches. He also claimed he would travel to Nigeria to fix the deals. He said: “I knew those ones would agree because they’ve never seen money before and they don’t know about these things. I can tell them: ‘Just go and kick someone, I will give you some money’ because they don’t know about fixing.”
Over the past two months, 13 professional players have been arrested over alleged spot-fixing attempts and six more rearrested over fixing claims. Following the claims over the Nigeria-Scotland friendly, the Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi refuted the allegations point-blank, claiming he had no knowledge of any activity.
While Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) would not say anything about investigating the latest claims, the Sun on Sunday’s reported the Italian FA were interested in the latest evidence.
Mazher Mahmood, also known as the Fake Sheikh, a nickname due to habit of disguising himself as a wealthy Arab during one of his elaborate investigations, also broke the story of the alleged cricket betting scam involving the Pakistan cricket that saw Salman
Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir indicted and banned from cricket for varying durations.