Friday, January 25, 2008

Benin Coach Alleges Match Fixing Approach

Every tournament needs a little scandal. The African Cup of Nations has its first one. And it's not a good one.

Today, Benin coach Reinhard Fabisch said he'd been approached to fix his side's opening match against Mali.

"I was approached by someone in a hotel who said his name was Mr Andrews. He said he worked for people in Asia who were ready to pay $20,000 if I could manipulate the result of a match," Fabisch was quoted as saying by German media on Thursday.

"I told him if he didn't clear out immediately I'd call the police."

Benin lost the Group B match 1-0 after conceding a second-half penalty.

Fabisch is willing to give the Confederation of African Football the name and number of the man who claimed to be from a Singapore-based company. He's been given a 24-hour deadline to confirm his allegations about match-fixing.

BBC World Service's Richard Fleming said the news of the alleged incident could have major consequences for the tournament.

"There's more to this story than meets the eye," said Fleming.

"Fabisch is prepared to take this information to the authorities, who must surely act. If these allegations have any foundations at all then it's going to cast a huge cloud over the tournament."

The relative lack of money in African football made the tournament particularly susceptible to the problem, according to Fabisch.

"I was astonished that he had the guts to approach a German to fix a football match," he said.

"I think that African players are vulnerable to this kind of approach, because many of them don't have money. This is why poor countries like Benin are targeted."

"I cut him short and told him to leave. It doesn't help football. I assume that if someone approaches you like that, then they have that (money) in mind."

Benin next play Ivory Coast in Sekondi on Friday.

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