Agency acts after press reports that player said he could rig Championship
games in return for cash
Police have arrested six people in connection with a second
investigation into spot-fixing in English football after a former Premier
League defender allegedly told an undercover reporter he had been involved in
rigging matches in return for money.
The National Crime Agency
confirmed six people were in custody after it acted upon information passed to
it by the Sun on Sunday. The newspaper reported that an undercover investigator
had met the former Reading and Portsmouth player Sam Sodje, who had allegedly
claimed he could arrange for Championship footballers to get themselves booked
in games for cash payments.
34-year-old was filmed describing how he had twice punched an opponent, Oldham
Athletic's Jose Baxter, while playing for Portsmouth in a League One match last
February as he sought to receive a red card in exchange for £70,000.
Asked on Sunday to reflect on the dismissal, the then Portsmouth manager Guy
Whittingham told the BBC: "When you see it in the cold light of day afterwards,
and you see what he's done, you can't fathom out why he's done it."
Sodje also claimed in the video, which was filmed secretly, that he had
arranged for another player to be paid £30,000 for earning a yellow card
in a Championship match, that he could rig Premier League games and was even
preparing to fix matches at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Portsmouth, who released Sodje at the end of last
season, said they were "shocked and saddened" by the claims. "Match-fixing of
any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game," said a spokesman for
the League Two club. "The player in question no longer plays for the club and
we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would
co-operate fully with any inquiry.". Sodje could not be reached for comment.
The newspaper reported that Sodje's brother, the Tranmere forward Akpo
Sodje, had allegedly said he would be prepared to be paid to be booked.
Tranmere said: "As this is an ongoing investigation the club will make no
further comment at this time."
The report also detailed how the Oldham
player Cristian Montaño allegedly failed to get a yellow card in return
for money in a match against Wolves on 22 October and allegedly offered to take
part in another rigging incident. Oldham said: "The club will commence an
immediate internal investigation to establish all the relevant facts of the
case. The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot
comment on specific facts at this stage."
A spokesman for the NCA said:
"An active NCA investigation is now under way and we are working closely with
the Football Association and the Gambling Commission. Six people are in custody
and are being questioned by NCA officers. We cannot comment further at this
stage." The Football Association, the Football League and the Gambling
Commission have indicated they will assist police in their investigation.
The NCA is conducting a separate investigation into an alleged
international illegal betting syndicate. Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun,
both 22, were charged last week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common
law. The pair, who played for Conference South club Whitehawk, were dismissed
by their club and will appear in court on Wednesday.
Two other men,
Chann Sankaran, 33, from Hastings, East Sussex, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan,
43, from Singapore, were charged last month with plotting to defraud bookmakers
and will also appear in court this week.
The Professional Footballers'
Association said in a statement: "These allegations, if proven, unfortunately
demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights
the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the
game in educating players of these risks.
"We take the issue of
integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this
evil from our game."
Marcus Gayle, the manager of Conference South team
Staines Town, has claimed his players were offered match-fixing bribes three
weeks ago. The former Wimbledon and Watford player told BT Sport he was furious
when he discovered the approach, which was made to one of his players by
Gayle said: "We reported the incident straight away to the
FA. That shows we have done the right thing. Our players are absolutely
furious. I never thought match-fixing was possible but now I have changed my
mind for obvious reasons, now I am convinced it's all over the place, at least
that's how it appears to be to me. After what has happened at my club I am
angry and I want to stand up for the integrity of the game, even if that means
standing up alone, so be it.
"As a club I believe we have done the
right thing reporting it to the FA and I am sure they will be passing on that
information to the police. We reported it to the FA 24 hours after I found out
about it. It does worry me just how much is going on in the game at the moment,
and I am sure it is far more than people think."
The Blackburn Rovers forward DJ Campbell is one of six people
arrested in connection with a football spot-fixing investigation, his club have
confirmed. Five people, including Campbell, have been bailed until 14 April,
and a sixth is still being questioned, the National Crime Agency said.
The 32-year-old Campbell was detained as part of an investigation by
the NCA after it acted on information passed to it by the Sun on Sunday
In a statement, Blackburn said: "Following reports in
today's national media, Blackburn Rovers can confirm that striker DJ Campbell
has been arrested. The club will be making no further comment on what is now an
ongoing legal matter."
The tabloid newspaper also reported that an
undercover investigator met the former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje, who
allegedly said he could arrange for footballers in the Championship to get
themselves a yellow card in return for tens of thousands of pounds.
34-year-old also claimed he could rig Premier League games and even said he was
preparing to fix matches at next year's World Cup in Brazil, the newspaper