Exclusive: AFC top official sheds some light on recent match-fixing epidemic

Goal.com Malaysia's Nicolas Anil speaks to AFC Secretary General, Dato' Alex Soosay, on the sudden outburst of match-fixing and it's implication to Malaysian and Asian football

The beautiful game has been tarnished by the recent match-fixing virus, spreading to almost 400 matches in Europe alone. A Singaporean syndicate is said to be the master-mind behind this plague, as hundreds of decisions are now being called into question as fans begin to doubt the very authencity of the game. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Interpol recently organised a seminar in Kuala Lumpur to discuss ways to curb match-fixing, and AFC Secretary General Dato’ Alex Soosay shared his thoughts on this issue.

“Match-fixing is an ever spreading virus, but it is one that can be stopped with some concerted effort.  AFC and Interpol will hold regular seminars in association with FIFA and Interpol on training, education and prevention initiatives on match-fixing and football in general.” said Dato’ Alex.

This match-fixing pandemic has certainly escalated to new heights after the revelation of some 380 cases affecting European matches. Football bookies have indeed taken a stranglehold on the game, having connections worldwide as they rule the roost to cater to the insatiable appetite of betting amongst hardcore gamblers. But Dato Alex’ says even though the influence of bookies is spreading, they can be stopped with the help of all the authorities concerned.

“We will have to fight this menace together. FIFA and AFC cannot fight this battle alone and needs the support and cooperation of law enforcement agencies and government in investigating and making stricter laws to fight the syndicate.”

Touching on the recent lifetime ban handed to now ex-Selangor defender Ramez Dayoub, Goal.com asked the Secretary General for his opinion on the issue, and he said AFC is fully behind the Lebanese Football Association. “We will fully support the action taken by our Member Association following thorough investigations. We have also asked the Lebanese Football Association to provide us with the full investigation report and we will take it from there.”

Asian football’s reputation has also been dented with the recent revelations of match-fixing, with a Singaporean mastermind controlling matches in Europe while the suspended Ramez Dayoub and Mahmoud El-Ali plied their trade in the Malaysian & Indonesian league respectively. Dato’ Alex however reiterates that this problem is a global threat and applauded the respective Associations for their quick action. “This problem is not only a concern for Asia but the entire world. We must appreciate the Football Association of Singapore, the Lebanese Football Association, the Korean Football Association as well as the Malaysian Football Association for taking stringent measures, which will help Asian football in a big way.”

As a man who has seen it all, Dato’ Alex Soosay insists match-fixing is an epidemic that can be eradicated with the help of all parties, including football fans. “Governing bodies and crime fighting agencies are the two big institutions that can combat match-fixing. Football fans can also play their part in this matter by alerting us to any suspicious results. FIFA has set up a hotline for this purpose, and will conduct investigations if a match is deemed to be of a highly suspicious nature, or having being influenced by football bookies.”

For the sake of the beautiful game, let us all play our part in trying to curb this unwanted malice. When money takes control of football, it is no longer seen as a competitive and passionate sport, rather a scapegoat to intruders who shame the game by oiling it with dirty money.

Let’s curb it, let’s kick it. Match-fixing has no place in world football!