Touch and Go worried about match fixing in the final games

WINDHOEK: Otavi-based Namibia Premier League (NPL) outfit Touch and Go Football Club’s management are worried about match-fixing on the final day of the 2014/15 NPL season.

The team that gained promotion to the NPL from the North West First Division Stream during the 2013/14 season is currently third from the bottom of the elite league’s log standing, and could be relegated come the end of the season this Saturday.

Going into the weekend games, Touch and Go are 14th on the log standing with 28 points and will form part of the three teams that will be automatically relegated to their respective First Division Streams if they fail to collect the three points allocated to winners of the matches.

Speaking to Nampa on Wednesday, Touch and Go public relations officer Jafta Gaoab said he is concerned with the way in which matches have been scheduled at the end of the season because it could encourage teams fighting the relegation battle to fix matches.

“If you look at the log standing at the moment, some teams have already been relegated back to the First Division but as for us, we are in the relegation zone and can still survive if we win our last game against Benfica. But even if we win, we would still be relegated because teams that are just two points away from us are playing against their home town opponents and under the table deals can be done there,” said Gaoab.

Rundu-based Julinho Sporting are 13th on the log standing with 29 points, while Walvis Bay outfit, Eleven Arrows are 12th with 30 points. One of them stand the chance of being relegated if they fail to collect maximum points at the weekend and if Touch and Go register a win.

Julinho Sporting will play United Stars at the Rundu Sports Field and Eleven Arrows will play their local neighbours, Blue Waters at the Kuisebmund Stadium.

Gaoab told this reporter that it is easy for teams to bribe each other in the NPL because teams that are not in the top-four of the league do not win anything and would easily accept money from anyone who wants to avoid relegation.

In a letter written to the NPL League Administrator Joshua Hoebeb by Touch and Go FC and availed to Nampa, Gaoab said the league should monitor players and match officials because some teams are completely not safe from being relegated, and therefore match fixing might happen.

“In the light of foregoing, I would like to bring to your attention that underground manoeuvring of deciding the fixtures, even before they are played, have started in the boardrooms in earnest and not on the field of play.

Team officials, referees and even players are being bribed or promised handsome or sizable amounts to throw the matches. This is tantamount to match fixing and corruption, and brings the beautiful game of football into disrepute.

These nasty dealings are being conducted for the teams to retain their premiership status at the expense of the others who do not have the financial power to bribe match officials, players and management of other teams,” said Gaoab.

He advised the NPL that focus should be given to the following matches: N 235, No 236 and No 237, while match officials should only be told what game to officiate 24 hours in advance. Gaoab also said that matches should be recorded on camera to monitor any suspicious behaviour of players and referees.

Approached for comment on Wednesday, Hoebeb said there is no way the league will allow such incidents to happen, saying if any team is caught engaging in such an act, they will be heavily punished.

“Touch and Go are just waking up now but as a league, we have been monitoring such situations from the last four games of the league. Last week I was in Walvis Bay and my superior, Johnny Doeseb, was in Otjiwarongo watching the games and looking out for any suspicious acts,” said Hoebeb. Doeseb is chairperson of the NPL.

Hoebeb added that for the last four seasons, the league has always had extra officials present at the matches to oversee players and referees with regards to possible incidences of match fixing.

“I don’t think there is any team that will throw a game this coming weekend because Blue Waters are also fighting for a top four finish. Losing the game will mean they don’t win anything come end of the season,” he stated.