Interpol Asked to Probe NPL Bribery Claims

Namibian football authorities have sought the services of Interpol to probe allegations that there was a plot to influence the result of last week’s match between African Stars and Orlando Pirates. Interpol is an intergovernmental police organisation that fights international crime. A former Namibia Premier League (NPL) footballer has been identified as the ringleader behind a syndicate of match fixers. Allegations are that he attempted to manipulate the result of last Wednesday’s MTC Premiership final match between the two teams – in which N$1 million in prize money was at stake.

The player, whose identity has been revealed to New Era Sports, is alleged to have approached three key players from Pirates, including their goalkeeper to deliberately leak goals during the replayed tie.

New Era Sports has been reliably informed that the players were offered N$10 000 to fix the outcome in his team’s favour.

The abbreviated clash ended goalless but Pirates were declared winners by virtue of their 2-goal lead carried over from the initial encounter in April.

The result left Stars trailing log leaders Black Africa by a solitary point – thus handing the title to the reigning champions. However, the finishing touches to the MTC Premiership abandoned clash left a sting in the tail.

Stars have distanced themselves from these damning allegations but did admit that a former player approached the club’s chairman Sidney Martin and tried to solicit money as payment to influence the result of the match.

He was told in no uncertain terms where to get off as it was against the principles of what this great club stands for. “I received a call from the player requesting money for bribes followed by subsequent communication (recorded) but I told him to bugger off and threatened to report the matter to the relevant authorities,” said a fuming Martin.

An official from Pirates confirmed the allegations and said upon learning from the targeted players and on social network that plans were underway to manipulate the result, the club acted swiftly and alerted the league authorities about the alleged underhand deal. Unconfirmed reports suggest that two of the players who were approached accepted the money while another one, the eventual whistleblower, refused the underhand gesture. An official from the NPL said they have enlisted the services of Interpol to launch a thorough investigation into the alleged attempts to fix the result. Roping in Interpol would make it easy for the world football governing body, FIFA, to look into the allegations, league authorities said.

“We view these allegations in a very serious light and must get to the bottom of it and if need be file criminal charges against the culprits, in this case, the giver and taker,” said the agitated official. Martin says he will safeguard the image of the club he has been bankrolling for years.

“As chairman of the club, I must protect the integrity of our brand and will never engage in such fraudulent issues,” he said.

“Whoever did this must have done so at their own peril and should face the consequences of their action because they did not have our mandate to engage in such unscrupulous dealings.” Martin promised to assist and cooperate with the authorities in the investigation to bring the culprits to book. In another twist, the 4th official in the match in question was removed at the eleventh hour from officiating duties after it emerged that he had sought to solicit money from a top Black Africa official.

Last month, Namibia Football Association (NFA) President John Muinjo appeared in the British press as having been among African football bosses who were allegedly promised bribes by Qatari businessman Mohamed Bin Hammam, in exchange for votes for the FIFA presidency. Muinjo flatly denied the bribery claims, although he admitted to have asked Bin Hammam for money to construct football facilities in the country.

Source : New Era