Soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, has launched an investigation into alleged match-fixing in two international friendlies played on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011.
Recent Friendlies in Question
Estonia 2 x Bulgaria 2
|Konstantin Vassiljev: Estonia (pen 20')||Ivelin Popov: Bulgaria (pen 41')|
|Konstantin Vassiljev: Estonia (pen 80')||Ivelin Popov: Bulgaria (pen 83')|
Latvia 2 x Bolivia 1 (Video not available)
|Maris Verpakovskis: Latvia (pen 42')||Marcelo Martins: Bolivia (pen 57')|
|Aleksandrs Cauna: Latvia (pen 49')|
Match statistics courtesy of ESPN Soccernet.
The games were a double-header where Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1 followed by a 2-2 draw between Bulgaria, coached by German World Cup winning captain Lothar Matthaus, and Estonia were played at the Stadionas Skonto in the Turkish resort of Antalya. The fixing allegations emerged amidst confusion over the nationalities of the match officials involved and the fact that all seven goals were converted penalties.
Unusual Betting Patterns
FIFA have been contacted by representatives from the football associations of both Baltic states who want the investigation to center on possible unusual betting patterns and on the officials who took charge of the games. Last Friday, Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) President Borislav Mihaylov said:
“We will provide full assistance to FIFA”, adding “We had some doubts about the refereeing in this match.”
Offical reports from the BFU and Estonian FA say the referee was Hungarian Krisztian Salmeczi; however, Hungarian referee’s chief Laszlo Wagner, as well as Hungarian media have indicated that the game was officiated by Salmeczi’s compatriot, Kolos Lengyel. Wagner indicated that Salmeczi, Lengyel and a third official Janos Csak would be suspended.
Footy Sport International
Estonian FA spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht said:
“We received information of possible manipulation even before the game, as the same agency also organised the match between Latvia and Bolivia and there was the same scenario there.”
The agency involved was Footy Sport International, who are based in Thailand. Under FIFA Match Agent Regulations, they must be in possession of a license issued by the world governing body in order to arrange matches between teams belonging to different confederations.
Latvian Football Federation spokesman Martins Hartmenis claims that two weeks before their game, the names of three officials, supposedly from Czech Republic, were given but that shortly before kick off, the organisers said they were from Hungary. Only for the officials themselves to claim they were Croatian.
Last year, a fake Togo team lost 3-0 to Bahrain arranged by a match agent with Singaporean connections.
About the Author
Ken McGannon is the chief foreign correspondent for SoccerPro.com.
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