Two men charged in a probe into soccer match-fixing that may involve five others will be held until their next hearing, Britain’s National Crime Agency said.
Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singaporean, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old from the U.K., appeared before Cannock magistrates today and will be held until the Dec. 13th hearing, the NCA said in an e-mailed statement. The five other men arrested were released on bail, the agency said.
The arrests came after the Daily Telegraph yesterday published a report that said match-fixers from Asia were targeting games across Britain. The newspaper published two secretly recorded videos of meetings in Manchester with an “internationally known fixer” who said lower-league matches could be manipulated for 50,000 pounds ($82,000).
Sankaran and Ganeshan were charged with conspiracy to defraud by conspiring together and with others to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets, the NCA said. The charges bring a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The newspaper also named one of the men arrested as player agent Delroy Facey, a former player who made 10 Premier League appearances during an 18-month spell at Bolton that ended in January 2004. At least three others are soccer players, the Telegraph said, adding that none of the teams involved in the probe are in the Premier League.
The NCA said it originally believed Ganeshan was a citizen of Singapore and the U.K., although he is only holds a British passport.
An e-mail sent to Facey yesterday by Bloomberg News through the LinkedIn social-networking website, seeking comment on the report, wasn’t returned.
The NCA investigation was informed in part by evidence provided by a source at the Telegraph, a spokesman for the anti-crime body told Bloomberg News.
The NCA, which started operations last month and focuses on stopping organized crime, said it’s working on the investigation with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association, soccer’s governing body in England.
In a statement, the F.A. acknowledged that it’s collaborating with the other authorities, without providing additional detail. The Gambling Commission confirmed its part in the probe while also declining to give any further information.
In February, a European law-enforcement probe into a Singapore-based operation revealed details of the attempted fixing of 680 matches including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, Champions League matches and several top-flight games. The 18-month investigation by Europol found 425 match officials, club executives, players and criminals in 15 countries worked to cheat in more than 380 matches in Europe, while another 300 games in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America may also have been targeted.
Chris Eaton, the former head of security at FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, said in 2011 that match-fixing can only be prevented by police agencies using joint intelligence-gathering similar to that in the fight against global terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. Now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, Eaton was cited by the Telegraph yesterday as saying the English football authorities have been “complacent” in their approach to the issue.
U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was worried about the allegations.
“I’ve read accounts of football match-fixing in other countries and thought ‘There by the grace of God go we,’” Clegg told LBC radio. “I hope that’s the sum total of it. It would be terrible if we look back on this in months and years to come and discover this is just the tip.”
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