On Sunday, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that a convicted match-fixer had claimed Cameroon’s 4-0 group-stage loss to Croatia on June 18 was rigged. The person in question, Wilson Raj Perumal, reportedly told a Der Spiegel reporter in a pregame Facebook conversation that the game would end 4-0 in Croatia’s favor and that a Cameroon player would be ejected after receiving a red card, both of which happened. Alex Song was sent off before halftime for elbowing Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back and was suspended by FIFA for three international matches.
Perumal, a Singaporean who in 2011 was convicted of fixing matches in Finland and is suspected of fixing other games in Africa and involving African teams, has denied making any claims about fixing Cameroon’s match against Croatia. In a statement, he said the Facebook conversation with Der Spiegel reporter Rafael Buschmann took place three days after the match. Buschmann, meanwhile, stood by his reporting in an e-mail to the Associated Press.
Now FIFA is wading into the mess, asking Der Spiegel to turn over details of Buschmann’s conversations with Perumal in order to prove its claims.
Fifa director of security Ralf Mutschke said in a statement read out at a daily briefing in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday that the allegations “put the integrity of Fifa World Cup matches in question, which is a serious allegation”. …
Mutschke says Fifa has monitored all 56 World Cup games so far and has “no indication of any match manipulation on the betting market”.
Cameroon had a disastrous World Cup, losing all three of its matches by a combined 9-1. Team members refused to travel to Brazil until they were paid their bonuses in cash and arrived a day later than planned, the New York Times reported. And as the Times notes, any FIFA investigation of Cameroon is bound to be tricky. “The governing body for the sport in Africa, the Confederation of African Football, has been run since 1988 by a Cameroonian, Issa Hayatou. Hayatou is a powerful ally of FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, who is expected to run for re-election to another term next year,” Times reporters Andrew DAs and David Waldstein wrote.
In a memoir published earlier this year, Perumal wrote that matches involving South Africa, Bulgaria, Colombia, Guatemala, Denmark, Brazil and Tanzania in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup had been rigged. He also claims to have helped Honduras and Nigeria reach the 2010 World Cup through various schemes involving gambling, and that he unsuccessfully tried to bribe referees at the World Cup itself.