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Jul 1, 2014

FIFA probes match-fixing claims

Cameroon officials will investigate claims from a German magazine that seven players were involved in match-fixing at the World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is waiting for the outcome of investigations into allegations that Cameroon players were involved in match-fixing at the World Cup, amid contradictory statements about the claims.

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The allegations were made by Der Spiegel, which on Tuesday said it stuck by its report which stated convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal correctly predicted Cameroon's result against Croatia -- a 4-0 defeat -- and that a player would be sent off in the first half in a Facebook discussion with a journalist before the game.

Perumal, known as the "Godfather of match-fixing," has issued a statement saying he made his remarks about Cameroon only after the match involved.

The contradictory statements will serve to further complicate the investigation.

The Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) has announced its ethics committee will probe allegations of fraud in three Group A matches, particularly the defeat to Croatia on June 18 in Manaus.

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FIFA's security department is also believed to be looking into the claims.

Blatter told Press Association Sport in Rio de Janeiro: "Yes I have been told about this but let them do their work on this investigation.''

Cameroon headed home from the World Cup after losing against Brazil and Mexico, as well as Croatia, to finish bottom of Group A.

Der Spiegel said not only was Perumal's predicted scoreline correct, but Cameroon midfielder Alex Song was sent off before half-time for elbowing Croatia's Mario Mandzukic, as he had also predicted.

But Perumal said in a statement: "Contrary to the 'revelations' published by the German weekly Der Spiegel that were picked up by news outlets worldwide, I did not predict the result of the Cameroon vs. Croatia match.

"The Facebook chat with the Der Spiegel journalist took place a few days after the match -- June 21, as confirmed by my Facebook log -- and was but an informal assessment of the behaviour of the Cameroon team at the Brazil 2014 World Cup after they had played two of their three group stage matches, including the one with Croatia.

"At no time did I make reference to four goals being scored or to a red card being issued.''

Der Spiegel did not issue the definite proof of any conversation but responded by saying: "We firmly stand by our assertion that Mr Perumal wrote in a Facebook chat with Der Spiegel some hours before the match Croatia vs. Cameroon, that the result of the match will be a 4-0 victory for Croatia and that a player of Cameroon will get a red card in the first half.''

FIFA's head of media Delia Fischer would not confirm or deny whether its security department -- which is made up of former police officers -- has also launched an investigation, but it would be unthinkable for it not to have done so and left it for the FECAFOOT to investigate its own players.

The FECAFOOT statement read: "Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon's 2014 FIFA World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon vs. Croatia, as well of the 'existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]' do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with FIFA code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.

"We wish to reinstate that in 55 years of existence, FECAFOOT has never been sanctioned for, involved in, or even linked to match fixing or any fraud of any kind.''

Der Spiegel said in its conversation with Perumal that he added: "In this team there are seven bad apples.''

Last week, FIFA's security director Ralf Mutschke said there had been no suspicious betting patterns with any match and added: "So far we have no evidence of a rigged game.''

Chris Eaton, FIFA's former security chief who is now director of Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security, said if proved that Perumal's prediction was made before the match it would have to be treated "extremely seriously.''

Eaton said: "If it is confirmed that the advice from Perumal was made before the match and is accurate to the overall result and red card, then this allegation will no doubt be treated extremely seriously by football, governments and beyond.''

Eaton added, however, that Perumal had made other predictions which had not materialised and that the regulated sport betting industry had not reported suspicious betting on the match.

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