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Officials hit with sexual bribery charge

Three Lebanese match officials have been charged with receiving sexual bribes to fix an AFC Cup match in Singapore, according to a government law-enforcement agency based in Lebanon.

Referee Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were withdrawn from officiating Tampines Rovers' 4-2 AFC Cup loss to East Bengal of India on Wednesday. They were replaced by officials from Thailand and Malaysia.

The Lebanese trio were instead taken to assist the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) with its enquiries before appearing in a Singapore court on Thursday.

"Ali Sabbagh, Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were produced in court, each with a charge of one count of corruptly receiving gratification, in the form of free sexual service," the CPIB said in a statement.

"Singapore has always adopted a zero tolerance approach towards corruption and match-fixing of any form is not condoned in Singapore.

"The Bureau works closely with the Football Association of Singapore and the authorities to keep the local soccer scene clean."

In February, an investigation by Europol uncovered allegations of match-fixing in around 380 games across Europe and found that a further 300 games played outside the continent were questionable.

Later that month, the Lebanese Football Association punished 24 players for their involvement in fixing both international and regional matches.