Arrest of Singapore ‘match-fixer’ sought; pal held in Italy

Updated 26 February 2013
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Arrest of Singapore ‘match-fixer’ sought; pal held in Italy

KUALA LUMPUR: The head of Interpol on Thursday urged Singapore to move against one of its citizens considered a key suspect in global football match-rigging, as one of his alleged associates was arrested in Italy.
Secretary-General Ronald Noble told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that the city-state needed to move on Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan Tan, who has emerged as a central figure in the suspected rigging of nearly 700 games worldwide.
“The fact that there can be an alleged organized crime head operating in a country known to be safe, secure like Singapore, distresses Singaporeans and distresses the world,” said Noble.
The call, made at the end of a two-day meeting between Interpol and world football officials, came as police in Italy arrested an alleged associate of Tan, Admir Sulic, at Milan’s Malpensa airport.
The Slovenian, who is suspected of belonging to a betting syndicate called the “zingari” (gypsies) headed by Tan, was held after arriving on a flight from Singapore, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
An international arrest warrant was issued for Sulic in December 2011 in connection with the illegal betting or “calcioscommesse” scandal in Italian football that implicated dozens of players, coaches and officials.
Noble had earlier praised Singapore for tipping off Interpol and the Italian authorities about Sulic’s arrival in Italy, although he did not name the suspect directly or give his nationality.
He was wanted for questioning in relation to alleged match-rigging by Tan’s organization, which the Interpol boss said was linked to suspect results in some 60 countries.
Tan’s name has cropped up in multiple match-rigging investigations but remains at large in Singapore, where police have said they need hard evidence before arresting anyone. Tan has denied wrongdoing.
His comments come two weeks after Europol said 380 suspicious games have been identified in Europe among nearly 700 worldwide, including Champions League ties and World Cup qualifiers.
The European police agency has said it suspects a criminal syndicate based in Singapore.
The latest match-fixing revelations have put a renewed focus on the problem, which has long been documented in Asia and now appears to be increasing throughout the world, fueled by the advent of lucrative online gambling.
But FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said the outcomes of the conference — such as a pledge to work toward fixing legal loopholes and more information-sharing between FAs and police — could see the fight against match-fixing “gain momentum.”
“Not one player alone can be effective but we all together can make the difference. The match has started already and we are lagging behind. I call upon you to join us on the pitch, playing, tackling and scoring,” he said in his closing speech.


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
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Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.