Referee Oden Charles Mbaga has been banned for life and fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($200,000) for accepting bribes to manipulate football matches, soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Tuesday. FIFA said in a statement that its ethics committee had found Mbaga guilty of accepting bribes in violation of the FIFA code of ethics following an investigation opened in July.
In a subsequent email to Reuters, FIFA said that Mbaga “accepted bribes to manipulate several national and international matches between 2009 and 2012.” It did not give any further details over which matches were involved.
Mbaga told Reuters in Dar es Salaam that he was questioned by FIFA in 2010 but had not heard anything from them since and knew nothing about match-fixing. “This is a shocking news to me. I don’t know anything about me being banned to participate football activities for life. I really don’t know this,” he said.
“I know FIFA was doing an investigation and the last time they came to interview me about the issue was in 2010. I told them openly that I don’t know anything about match-fixing and I have never heard anything from them since then.
“For now, I cannot say anything as I don’t have clear information.” FIFA described Mbaga as a “referee affiliated to the Tanzanian Football Federation.”
The ban excludes him from “from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level,” the statement added. Match-fixing is often organised by betting syndicates who bribe players or officials to manipulate matches and make money by correctly gambling on the result.
Last month, former international referee Ibrahim Chaibou from Niger was banned for life and fined 200,000 Swiss francs after being found guilty of taking bribes. FIFA did not give any further details on that case.