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Referee Pedro Proenca of Portugal sends off Cameroon's Alexandre Song for a challenge on Croatia's Mario Mandzukic (on ground) during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 18, 2014.

Cameroon is investigating allegations its World Cup team threw a game against Croatia

By Tim Fernholz

Cameroon’s national soccer federation has announced it will investigate whether its team threw a match to Croatia in the World Cup after a notorious match fixer predicted the score (4-0) and that a player would get sent off with a red card.

And sure enough, this happened in the match, leading to the ejection of star player Alex Song, who plays professionally for Barcelona:

ESPN
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Fans were shocked—it’s rare to see such a blatant foul in such an uncritical position in the play of the game. On the other hand, it makes sense if you’re trying to get sent off.

In a World Cup where one player bit another, perhaps we should expect anything on the pitch. Neither FIFA nor the players involved have commented on these allegations. But it’s not the first dispute between Cameroon’s players and their soccer federation—before they even left for the tournament, the players reportedly demanded their appearance fees in cash, part of a long history of disputes over payment.

The match-fixing prediction was made in Der Spiegel by Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean man who has been convicted of fronting a global match-fixing syndicate seeking to take advantage of billion-dollar Asian betting markets. (Update, 1:53 p.m.: Permual now denies the prediction in a statement to the BBC, accusing the German newspaper of “fabrication.”) Among their most brazen efforts was a soccer tournament in 2011 between Estonia, Bulgaria, Bolivia, and Latvia, that was untelevised and held in empty stadiums in Turkey. Gamblers still bet millions on the games, and every goal came from penalties awarded by referees the syndicate hand-picked.

Despite recent arrests and publicity, little appears to have changed. “They have new people to do their work,” someone connected to the syndicate told the New York Times. “There is no stopping them.”

Photo courtesy Reuters/Murad Sezer

Tim Fernholz
Reporter
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