An investigation has been launched into today’s World Cup friendly between Scotland and Nigeria over claims of attempted match-fixing.
Daily Mail reports that the National Crime Agency has been in talks with both FIFA and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) after receiving intelligence of potential bids to rig the game.
The game to be played on Wednesday at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground in London is part of a string of warm-up matches ahead of the tournament in Brazil next month.
Confirming the probe, the SFA has revealed that it has been ‘liaising’ with police for three days after they were given a tip off concerning the clash.
Believed to involve the Asian betting market, there have been no specific indications as to whether the attempted scam involves spot fixing or match outcome.
There is no suggestion of players being involved in tomorrow’s potential scam.
SFA Chief executive Stewart Regan tonight stated that the governing body are taking the issue very seriously.
He said: ‘We have been liaising with the relevant authorities, the National Crime Agency and FIFA, and we will be preparing for the match as normal.’
The NCA, which investigates organized crime, and FIFA both declined to comment on the report.
The Gambling Commission have already issued an alert to UK betting operators to be vigilant over irregular betting patterns in four friendlies taking place on Wednesday night – one of which is Nigeria v Scotland.
The others are USA v Azerbaijan in San Francisco, South Korea’s game with Tunisia in Seoul, Denmark v Sweden in Copenhagen and Mexico v Israel in Mexico City.
The NCA take an interest in any intelligence from the Gambling Commission and have told FIFA that they have general information from the Asian betting markets suggesting a potential scam is afoot.
They hope to stop the activities in their tracks by issuing an alert.
A spokesman for the National Crime Agency said: ‘The NCA will, from time to time, provide operational detail necessary for public reassurance purposes.
‘It does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of specific operations or provide ongoing commentary on operational activity.’
The issue is returning to the fore with a number of World Cup warm-up matches now taking place, as they are expected to be targeted by match fixers acting on behalf of illegal betting syndicates in the Far East.
There have been a series of arrests following suspected attempts to fix matches in the lower English football leagues in recent months. There have also been allegations of illicit activity in cricket.
There is not believed to be a threat to Nigeria’s pre-World Cup warm up at Fulham’s Craven Cottage this evening.
Sources: Daily Mail