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Much-investigated ref denies fixing soccer matches
Two weeks before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Chaibou refereed another game that caught the eye of journalists as well as betting monitors, who watch information from 300 betting agencies.
The South African Football Association had hired the Football4U agency, later linked to Perumal, to arrange a string of exhibitions, including a May 31 match against Guatemala. Chaibou was the referee.
The monitoring systems noted suspiciously strong pre-match backing for a South African victory, despite the fact the team was resting several regulars, and for at least three goals to be scored in the game, according to a confidential monitoring report.
South Africa won 5-0, with two of the goals coming from the three handball penalties awarded by Chaibou. The first was called on defender Gustavo Cabrera, who replays showed was clearly standing outside the penalty area. Guatemala was awarded a penalty in the 50th minute when South Africa defender Lucas Thwala blocked a shot with his chest; the South African goalkeeper made the save on the ensuing penalty kick. Chaibou gave South Africa another penalty kick four minutes later, and the team scored.
The South African Football Association immediately became suspicious and dropped all of Perumal’s referees, canceling Chaibou’s plans to officiate its next game against Denmark.
Chaibou denied that anyone had pressured him to influence the outcome of the match.
On Dec. 15, 2012, the South African Football Association announced that a FIFA report found “compelling evidence” that one or more of its games was fixed in 2010. It said referees hired by Perumal were thought to have manipulated its exhibition games before the World Cup for betting purposes, adding that no players were thought to have been involved. It did not name the referees. It has not imposed sanctions but the investigation continues.
Eaton, who has since joined the Qatari-funded International Centre for Sport Security, said he will continue to investigate Chaibou. It is his responsibility, he said, “to protect all sport from the influence of criminals infiltrating sport and corrupting individuals within sport.”
“The allegations against referee Chaibou mean he is a person of interest to the ICSS Integrity Unit and its investigators,” Eaton said.
Chaibou insists he has never fixed a match.
“It’s got nothing to do with me,” he said. “I refereed my matches and went home peacefully. End of story.”
Sports Writer John Leicester in Paris and Assistant Europe Editor Sheila Norman-Culp in London contributed to this story.
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