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Jun 10, 2013

Officials sentenced over sex bribes

Two Lebanese match officials have been sentenced by a court in Singapore, with another to be sentenced on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to accepting sex bribes from a crime syndicate thought to have been responsible for large-scale match-fixing.

The officials accepted the bribes from prostitutes who were arranged for them by Eric Ding Si Yang, a Singaporean businessman, in exchange for fixing an Asian Football Confederation Cup match in April.

Ali Eid, 33 and Abdallah Taleb, 37, both assistant referees, along with 34-year-old referee Ali Sabbagh, have since been detained in Changi Prison and denied bail.

Judge Low Wee Ping said: "The fact that you are international officials, in my view, is already an aggravating factor.''

But he said the fact that Eid and Taleb had pleaded guilty was a "strong mitigating factor''. Their good behaviour and the time they had already served in prison meant they could be released this week, he added.

However, he said that more time would be needed to consider the sentence imposed on Sabbagh because the referee had had direct contact with businessman Ding, whom he met in Beirut. Ding was bailed after being charged with corruption in May.

The case is the latest in a series linked with football corruption fuelled by illicit gambling syndicates.

Last year, authorities in Singapore charged a referee and a former Malaysia international with conspiring to fix a Malaysian Super League match.

And Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singapore national with ties to gambling syndicates in both Europe and Asia, was sentenced to prison in Finland for match-fixing.