AFC Cup match officials in Singapore police custody over match-fixing suspicion

Three Lebanese match officials set for the Tampines-East Bengal game have been taken into custody by the Singapore authorities
By Bhas Kunju

After earlier unconfirmed reports of arrests of individuals linked to the Tampines Rovers vs East Bengal AFC Cup match, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have announced that three match officials from the match are being held for questioning by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

The tie was set for Wednesday April 3, 745pm at Jalan Besar Stadium and will go ahead uninterrupted with replacement match officials being put in place on time.

The original match officials were brought into custody early Wednesday morning with AFC and FAS being informed of the arrests. The three officials in questions are referee Mr Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Mr Ali Eid and Mr Abdallah Taleb. All three are from Lebanon with 33-year-old Sabbagh having had a host of international experience as a Fifa referee.

The news come soon after the recent crackdowns in Lebanon that saw 26 individuals from Lebanese football being charged for match-fixing. 20 Lebanese players were given  year's suspension with 2 more receiving a three-year ban.

Selangor FA's Ramez Dayoub and Mahmoud El Ali of Persiba Balikpapan in Indonesia were handed lifetime bans for their involvement. Two officials were also implicated.

Speaking of the arrests an FAS Spokesperson commented in a media statement: "Singapore and FAS have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to match-fixing and football corruption which includes the imposition of permanent suspension from all football activities on any player or official convicted in a court of law for football corruption offences."

"We take a serious view of allegations pertaining to match-fixing and football corruption activities and the authorities and FAS will spare no effort in minimising the possibility of such activities taking place within the local football scene."