FIFA to probe Argentina-Nigeria friendly

Unusual betting patterns to be investigated after Argentina's 4-1 international friendly loss to Nigeria.

    Only hours before the Nigeria-Argentina kick-off, re-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter launched a new 'Zero Tolerance' programme to tackle football corruption [EPA]

    World football's governing body FIFA is to open an investigation into unusual betting patterns following Nigeria's 4-1 defeat of Argentina in an international friendly in Abuja on Wednesday.

    In the low-profile match, which featured a largely second-string Argentinean side, Ike Uche scored a brace and Victor Obinna scored once to put Nigeria three up at half-time while Emmanuel Emenike made it four in the second half.

    Argentina did not get on the scoreboard until eight minutes into injury time, when only five minutes had been signalled, when a handball was given by referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger and Mauro Boselli scored from the penalty spot.

    It is claimed a high number of bets were placed for there to be another goal with the score at 4-0.

    'Active interest'

    In a statement released on Saturday, FIFA said the match was "was one that we had an active interest in, and forms part of a wider ongoing FIFA investigation.''

    FIFA was "working closely'' with its betting monitoring agency Early Warning System which tracks wagers placed with more than 400 operators worldwide.

    Earlier on Wednesday, newly re-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter had launched a 'Zero Tolerance' campaign to stop corruption in football.

    FIFA's 208 member nations in Zurich also passed new rules to control the organisation of international matches, including the power to veto referee appointments.

    Referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger awarded two penalties - one to each side - in Wednesday's game between two teams who played each other at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

    Nigeria took a 2-0 lead with a 26th minute spot-kick after Chaibou awarded a foul against Argentina defender Federico Fazio.

    Five minutes of stoppage time were announced at the end of the match, with play continuing until the 98th minute when Argentina scored with a penalty kick from Mauro Boselli.


    However, there was no suggestion that players from either team were involved in manipulating the match.

    Nigeria Football Federation spokesman Ademola Olajire told news agency AP he had no knowledge of a FIFA investigation.

    Chaibou is one of the most experienced FIFA-approved referees with 15 years' service on the international list. He was born in 1966 and must step down this year on reaching FIFA's referee age limit of 45.

    As match-fixing investigations develop across the world, FIFA announced last month it would pay Interpol $29 million over the next 10 years to educate referees, players, coaches and officials in how to resist corruption.

    "FIFA is currently receiving lots of information and cooperation across Europe, Asia, Africa and South and Central America, and as an organisation we are committed to tackling this problem in the most vigorous way possible,'' the governing body said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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