SALVADOR: FIFA is facing the nightmare scenario of the most exciting World Cup years being scarred by a matchfixing scandal writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A claim that up to seven players were involved in manipulation of all three of their group matches came from convicted fixer Wilson Raj Perumal and were reported by the German magazine Spiegel.

Alex Song sent off in defeat against Croatia

The veracity of Perumal’s allegations are always subject to doubt because of the manner in which he has played both sides of the system against the middle – both fixing and then implicating other people to investigators. He has also reportedly denied Spiegel‘s reports of his comments understood to have been made in a Facebook exchange.

However the Cameroon football federation has had to commit itself to an investigation. The ethics committee of FECAFOOT has announced it will study reports of “fraud” by “seven bad apples.”

Players skirmish

The Indomitable Lions lost all their Group A games, including a 4-0 defeat by Croatia in which Alex Song sent off for hitting Mario Mandzukic from behind while team-mates Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo clashed late on in the game.

Perumal, who had at one stage been ‘helping police’ in Hungary was detained by police in Finland in April on an international arrest warrant. In an exchange with Spiegel reporters he forecast correctly the result with Croatia and that a player would be sent off.

A statement from FECAFOOT said: “Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s 2014 Fifa World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon versus Croatia, as well of the ‘existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]’ do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with FIFA’s code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.

“We are strongly committed to employ all means necessary to resolve this disruptive matter in the shortest delays.”

The investigation will form part of a wider inquiry ordered by the state President Paul Biya into the team’s poor showing in Brazil.

The BBC quoted betting industry sources as saying there had been no suspicious patterns concerning either Cameroon’s games or any others at the World Cup.

FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke and ethics investigator Michael Garcia will also examine the claims though FIFA, as standard, refused to comment either way on whether it would mount its own investigation.

A spokesperson said: “The integrity of the game is a top priority for Fifa and as such we take any allegations of match manipulation very seriously.”

Three defeats

Cameroon’s Cup departure for to Brazil was overshadowed and delayed for a day by the players’ refusal to fly until a dispute over bonus payments had been settled.

They started the tournament with a 1-0 defeat by Mexico prior to the loss to Croatia and being beaten 4-1 by hosts Brazil.

Coach Volker Finke said after that latter defeat: “Some players behaved very badly and that’s why we conceded four goals. It is difficult to play with 10 men, but that is not a reason to lose it to this point.

“The behaviour of some of the players is really not satisfactory. Even when we were 11-a-side, it was not acceptable.”

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