ZURICH: World federation FIFA has confirmed it is investigating the circumstances of Bahrain’s eyebrow-raising 10-0 World Cup thrashing of Indonesia in a World Cup qualifier match in Manama on Wednesday. That also includes events during a 2-2 draw between Iran and Qatar.
Simultaneously, an inquiry was launched today by FIFA security head Chris Eaton over corruption allegations surrounding three friendly matches played by South Africa in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup finals which the country hosted.
In Bahrain, the national team coached by Englishman Peter Taylor needed a clear nine-goal win to have a chance of finishing second in their group and thus reaching the fourth and final round of the Asian qualifying competition.
Bahrain managed to score all the goals they needed but were ultimately edged out of qualifying because Qatar benefited from the 2-2 draw earned by a late equaliser in Iran.
Indonesia, already eliminated, had fielded a weakened team since a number of their top players had been suspended by their own federation for taking part in the breakaway Indonesian Super League. Lebanese referee Andre El Hadded sent off Indonesia goalkeeper Samsidar after only two minutes of a game which saw Bahrain awarded four penalties and converting two of them.
Indonesia finished bottom of Group E with no points, conceding 26 goals and scoring just three, the worst record of the 20 teams in the third round of Asian qualifying. PSSI secretary-general Tri Goestoro said: “We apologise to the people of Indonesia. The PSSI tried to pick the best players and aimed for the best results for the last match but Bahrain was clearly playing better and defeated us.”
According to FIFA’s records, the two sides had met six times before with two wins apiece and two draws. Bahrain had not previously won by more than two goals.
A FIFA statement said: “Given the unusual outcome in relation to the results-expectation and head-to-head history, and in the interests of maintaining unequivocal confidence in our game, FIFA Security will conduct a routine examination of this game and its result.”
Prince Ali of Jordan, Asian vice-president of the world federation, insisted he did not have enough information comment directly on the matches.
However he cautioned: “Matchfixing is a huge issue that needs to be tackled. Of course one has to wait and see what the investigation comes up with but it has to be taken seriously. It might just be a coincidence.
“This is a world issue which crosses continents and many times those involved are a step ahead so we need to put as much resource as we can into this aspect of FIFA’s work.”
Saudi Arabia also failed to qualify after losing 4-2 to Australia who scored three goals in four minutes. The Saudis took a 2-1 interval lead in the Group D clash but then conceded three late rapid-fire goals to Harry Kewell, Alex Brosque and Brett Emerton. The Saudis had needed victory to reach the fourth round but Oman went through instead behind the Socceroos.
FIFA security staff started work Friday in Johannesburg in investigating allegations of five Bafana Bafana matches played early in 2010as well as other possible corrupt games in Southern Africa. Eaton is assisted by Terry Steans, who is also from Fifa’s investigations department, and Mlungisi Ncame, Safa’s head of security.
Among the witnesses to be interviewed by the investigators are Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, former manager Sipho Nkumane and national teams’ head Lindile “Ace” Kika.
A focus of doubt regards the appointment of referees for the five suspect games. Former SAFA chief executive Leslie Sedibe has said he was not involved in the appointment of the referees, saying he delegated Kika to deal with the matter. Kika has denied any wrong-doing.
The referees were organised, at the behest of SAFA, by sports marketing group Football4U which was controlled by Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean who has since been jailed in Finland for fixing games in that country.