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What’s Next In Match Fixing Row?

What’s Next In Match Fixing Row?
August 13
10:00 2018

Since being promoted to the top division of Fiji’s national football competition last year, Tavua has held its own.

Strong performances in the Vodafone Fiji FACT and the premier league has caught the attention of the sport’s local followers.

Tavua, under former coach Saroj Kumar, has overcome stronger teams like Rewa and Nadi, this season.

But a storm cloud formed above the team’s camp during last month’s Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament.

A surprisingly dismal run ended in a 5-0 defeat to Labasa, and was followed by the sacking of its coach. Perhaps most important were allegations of match fixing levelled against the Westerners.

Kumar, in dramatic fashion, claimed in the media that he had knowledge of his players being approached not to play well against Labasa.

His comments angered Tavua’s management, earning Kumar the sack– and assistant Nazeel Ali a promotion to head coach.

Tavua president Pranesh Prakash waved away the comments as “not true.”

What has Labasa said? The Northerners have remained silent, watching the developments unfold from afar while nursing the hangover of a loss to bitter rivals Suva.

Another party left infuriated by Kumar’s comments were Lautoka. The 5-0 win for Labasa knocked them out of the tournament, securing the Northerners a place in the semi- finals.

Lautoka officially lodged a complaint with the Fiji Football Association, which formed a committee to investigate the allegations. The head of the committee and credentials of its members are unknown.

Given the recent fiasco at the Oceania Football Confederation, the region’s governing football body, it is good that Fiji FA is investigating.

Talk to anyone within the local football fraternity, and they will be of the view that match fixing is quite common in Fiji.

The problem is no-one can ever prove it.

If shady officials are indeed approaching players with varying incentives to forfeit a game, they are smart enough not to leave behind a trail.

The only piece of evidence that stands out in this case is the 5-0 score-line. But that, too, is anecdotal and came after a similar 4-0 loss at the hands of eventual-winner Ba.

It could just be that Tavua were horrible in this tournament, while Lautoka are bitter they did not qualify despite major investments in the squad.

Putting into context how seriously the world takes match fixing, one has to re-visit the story of Italian football giants Juventus.

In 2006, Juventus were implicated in the biggest match fixing scandal in recent football history, known as the calciopoli scandal.

They were relegated from Italy’s top division and stripped of two previously-won championships as punishment.

Investigations and hearings associated with the scandal continued some 10 years after its discovery, sending shockwaves across Italy.

Observers and fans are closely watching what Fiji FA discovers in this latest investigation.

There is a sense that the hammer must come down on anyone found involved in any wrongdoing.

 

      Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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