Cameroon federation opens investigation into Brazil 2014 match-fixing allegations
July 1 – Cameroon officials are to investigate claims that up to seven of their players could have been involved in match-fixing at the World Cup. In the first case of possible manipulation at the tournament, something FIFA feared but recently said there was no indication of actually occurring, the Cameroon FA (FECAFOOT) said it had instructed its ethics committee to look into allegations of possible wrongdoing in their three games in Brazil, particularly a 4-0 loss to Croatia.
“Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s three 2014 World Cup games, especially Cameroon v Croatia, as well the existence of “seven bad apples (in our national team)” do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration,” FECAFOOT interim president Joseph Owona said in a statement.
“We wish to inform the general public that, though not yet contacted by FIFA in regards to this affair, our administration has already instructed its Ethics Committee to further investigate these accusations.
“We are strongly committed to employ all means necessary to resolve this disruptive matter with the shortest delay.”
The allegations came to light after German magazine Der Spiegel, following discussions with the world’s most notorious match rigger, Singapore’s Wilson Raj Perumal, who had accurately forecast the result of the Croatia game and the fact a player would be sent off.
Midfielder Alex Song was dismissed before halftime for what most observers agreed was a needless elbow in the back of Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic near the halfway line. The game was also marred by an equally bizarre incident near the end when Benoit Assou-Ekotto attempted to head-butt a teammate.
The latest controversy heaps more woe over African teams at the World Cup where all their teams have now been eliminated. Ghana had two players sent home in disgrace, Sulley Muntari for hitting an official and Kevin-Prince Boateng for allegedly swearing at the coach.
Additionally both Ghana and Nigeria were embroiled in bonus pay disputes, with the Nigerians boycotting a training session and the Ghanaian government sending $3 million in cash to Brazil to avert a strike by the players. Cameroon’s buildup to the World Cup was also marred by money issues with players initially refusing to travel until a dispute over bonus payments had been settled. A financial package was eventually agreed but they ended up losing all three group games.
The incidents prompted the intervention of FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke who lamented: “It is sad that we end with such a story of players talking about a strike. The fact that the [Ghana] money came in cash was also sad. We had a meeting and I was ready to sign a letter that the money would be transferred so that FIFA could make sure and deduct it from the amount of prize money.
“It happened in 2006 with Togo and we will make sure for future tournaments we will ask all the national associations who qualify to provide us with the agreement between players and national associations to make this doesn’t happen again.
“This money has to be paid. The players have the right to receive it but in terms of image it can be better to do it in a normal way.”
FIFA have reserved comment on the latest match-fixing claims saying it did not want to “compromise any possible investigations”.
Several friendlies before the 2010 World Cup were later found to have been rigged leading FIFA to take a close look at dozens of similar games in the build-up to Brazil. Back in January, FIFA security chief Ralf Mutschke warned that match-fixing criminals may try to target World Cup matches but a week ago he said no instances had so far come to light and that the tournament appeared to be clean.
Before the World Cup started, however, Mutschke was quoted as saying: “We are not expecting fixers to be traveling to Brazil and knocking on the hotel door of players or referees, but I know there will have been approaches to players and referees.”