Fixing has and will always exist, says punished coach

Updated 05 February 2013
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Fixing has and will always exist, says punished coach

NELSPRUIT, South Africa: Burkina Faso coach Paul Put, whose own career was blighted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal in Belgium in 2005, says the problem has always existed in soccer and little can be done.
The Belgian has made progress in his bid to rehabilitate his reputation by taking the unfancied side to the African Nations Cup semi-finals on Wednesday but his murky past has become a focus in the build-up since the release of Europol’s report this week detailing widespread European match-fixing.
“Match-fixing has always existed in football. If you look in cycling, at Lance Armstrong, it’s always him who is pointed at but everybody was taking drugs.
“When I played football I saw a lot of things. I don’t think you can change it. It’s unfortunate but I think in every sport you have to face those things,” he told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Burkina Faso’s meeting with Ghana in Nelspruit.
Put and players from his club Lierse were paid to throw matches in the 2004-2005 season, generating betting gains on Belgian football in China in what became known as the Ye scandal after the Chinese businessman Ye Zheyun, who Belgian police said was at the center of the affair.
Put said he had fixed two matches while in charge at Lierse in 2005. He said his family had been threatened and feels he was a scapegoat.
“You have to see what’s going on in football. There are a lot of big international players who are involved in match-fixing,” he said.
“I think it was worse in the past.
“It was a very hard time for myself and my family and my friends. If they point at you and you are the only one, it is hard. I was threatened by the mafia. My child was not safe. They threatened me with weapons and things like that.” Put was banned from football for three years.
“It’s not nice to talk about these things but this is the reality. I’ve been fighting, fighting, working, working, day and night and at least I now I have satisfaction,” he added.
“Now everybody in Belgium is turning and calling me, radio programs, television programs but I’m still the same Paul Put as before.” Put said he had been forced into throwing matches.
“Fixing games is a big word. The team at that moment had nothing. It was in a very bad condition. There was no hope, no money, nothing. It was not by our will,” he lamented.
Put still faces a criminal trial in Belgium but says he is free again to work. He is hoping success at the Nations Cup will open doors for a return to Belgian football.


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 33 min 2 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

John Duerden RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.