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Fixing claim over 2010 World Cup game

FIFA investigated the 2010 World Cup match between Nigeria and Greece over suspected match-fixing, the organisation's former head of security has claimed.

Chris Eaton said the match had been looked at by FIFA's anti-corruption unit, and also said a national federation - and possibly more than one - was being investigated, along with clubs.

He also alleged that FIFA had been contacted by a footballer playing in the English Championship who had voiced his concerns over corruption and match-fixing.

Greece beat Nigeria 2-1 in South Africa after recovering from a goal down in the World Cup match, in which Nigeria had Sani Kaita sent off after a first-half clash with Vasilis Torosidis. The Nigerians were 1-0 ahead at the time.

If Eaton's claims are correct, the match would be the first in a World Cup finals to have come under suspicion of being affected by corruption. Friendlies and qualifying matches have been investigated in the past, but never a game in the World Cup's final stages.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Eaton claimed corruption in the world game was deep-rooted, with match officials routinely targeted in attempts to influence the outcome of games.

He said: "A referee approached a member of the FIFA investigation team and told him that he was the only person with any honesty and integrity in the room.

"How many officials? It may not be thousands, but it would certainly be hundreds. We have a number of clubs and federations who are actively under investigation today to see the extent to which criminal infiltration has taken a hold of their decision-making processes.

"Corruption cannot be solved at a national level. This is across borders... it needs a global response."

FIFA has denied it is carrying out or has carried out match-fixing investigations into any matches played in the 2010 tournament.

A statement said: "We are not conducting any match fixing investigation for 2010 FIFA World Cup matches.

"Ralf Mutschke is the head of FIFA's new security division. The fight against match-fixing is only one of their duties, in addition to stadium security and general event security for all FIFA events including the FIFA World Cup.

"In relation to match-fixing, investigations can be launched by the security division in case there is a suspicion a match or a competition could be fixed. Any such issues are then reported to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (in order to sanction members of the football family) as well as to the disciplinary bodies of national Football Associations and/or to law enforcement organisations.''

Eaton said corruption was driven by the gambling market in the Far East where, with the inclusion of unregulated bookmakers, the market is worth up to one trillion euros a year.

"There are bookmakers who don't take the risk, and there are bookmakers who take the risk," he said. "They are not too concerned of the retrospective investigation or of protection."

He said a complex network of relationships existed between bookmakers and middle-men who can approach officials and players, adding: "We're not now talking about one off corruptions for a particular game. We're talking about long-term relationships.

"Criminals attract young players at junior competitions. It can start with a pair of shoes. They will offer the player a good pair of playing shoes; they will ask where their parents are and tell mum and dad: 'I can help your son develop his football. I will send him to a training school [ operated by criminals].' So there is a long-term financial commitment by these criminal organisations."

Eaton also revealed that a player from the Championship had come forward with allegations of corruption, and that these were being investigated at the time of his departure from FIFA.

The Football League said it treated "any allegations of behaviour that could undermine the integrity of our matches with the utmost seriousness" but added that it was "unaware of investigations by FIFA into allegations of this kind".