FIFA’s investigative report and related documents, which were obtained by The New York Times and have not been publicly released, raise serious questions about the vulnerability of the World Cup to match fixing. The tournament opens June 12 in Brazil.
The report found that the match-rigging syndicate and its referees infiltrated the upper reaches of global soccer in order to fix exhibition matches and exploit them for betting purposes. It provides extensive details of the clever and brazen ways that fixers apparently manipulated “at least five matches and possibly more” in South Africa ahead of the last World Cup. As many as 15 matches were targets, including a game between the United States and Australia, according to interviews and emails printed in the FIFA report.
Although corruption has vexed soccer for years, the South Africa case gives an unusually detailed look at the ease with which professional gamblers can fix matches, as well as the governing body’s severe problems in policing itself and its member federations. The report, at 44 pages, includes an account of Mr. [Ibrahim] Chaibou’s trip to the bank, as well as many other scenes describing how matches were apparently rigged.