Six held in inquiry into football bet fixing claims

The World Cup in Brazil was allegedly a betting target - pictured is the ''Estadio das Dunas. Picture: PA
The World Cup in Brazil was allegedly a betting target - pictured is the ''Estadio das Dunas. Picture: PA
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POLICE have arrested six people in connection with an investigation into football spot-fixing following allegations that a player got himself sent off in return for cash.

Sam Sodje told an undercover reporter how he punched an opponent in a League One game to get a red card in exchange for £70,000.

He also said he arranged for another player to be paid £30,000 for getting a yellow card in a Championship match.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed it had acted on information passed on by a Sunday newspaper.

Reports yesterday claimed an undercover investigator met the player, who said he could arrange for footballers in the Championship to get themselves a yellow card in return for tens of thousands of pounds.

He also claimed he could rig Premier League games and even said he was preparing to fix matches at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

A spokeswoman said: “An active NCA investigation is now under way and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission. Six people are in custody and are being questioned by NCA officers.”

The six people arrested have not been named.

Former Portsmouth and Nig-eria defender Sodje, 34, allegedly demanded £30,000 to get himself a yellow card in a match, allowing punters to bet on in-game incidents such as penalties.

He has previously played for a number of clubs including Notts County, Reading and Charlton Athletic.

The paper also reported Sodje as saying that his brother, former Hibs player Akpo Sodje, 33, would be prepared to get booked. Akpo signed for Hibs in January 2011. In January 2012 he joined Belgian club KVC Westerlo on trial before Hibs released him from his contract. Two months later, he joined Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, then Preston North End, then Scunthorpe, and Tranmere Rovers in July this year.

Sam Sodje also told the newspaper that a third player, Cristian Montano, 21, of Oldham Athletic FC, had been meant to get booked in return for cash, but failed.

The NCA is already carrying out a separate investigation into an alleged international illegal betting syndicate.

Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were charged last week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.

The pair, who played for Conference South club Whitehawk FC in Brighton, were dismissed by their club and will appear in court on Wednesday.

Two other men, Chann Sankaran, 33, from Hastings, East Sussex, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, from Singapore, were charged last month with plotting to defraud bookmakers and will appear in court this week.

Speaking about the latest reports, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness.”

A statement from Portsmouth Football Club said: “If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.

“The player in question no longer plays for the club” and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would co-operate fully with any inquiry.”