Following an investigation by The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches into football match-fixing, we show how our undercover fixers proposed to appoint corruptible match officials in order to rig international games
By Chris Stone, Ben Bryant and Jon Laurence
2:30PM BST 23 Jun 2014
Ghana has been exposed for agreeing to take part in international football matches organised by match fixers.
An undercover investigation by The Telegraph and Channel Four’s Dispatches programme found that the President of Ghana’s Football Association agreed for the team to take part in international matches that others were prepared to rig.
This video shows how fixers working for the Telegraph/Dispatches proposed to appoint corruptible match officials in order to rig international games.
Football players are often seen as the most reliable way to fix a game. However, the corruption of officials, especially referees, has also been used to guarantee scores and can offer a more reliable outcome of pushing the odds in the favour of gambling syndicates. The officials can add extra time, award penalties or favour a particular side throughout the match.
When they were confronted about their operation, Christopher Forsythe and Obed Nketiah denied any involvement in a plot to fix matches. Mr Nketiah said: “These are false allegations and I will never in my life do such a thing.”
As part of a statement, Mr Forsythe, said: “To be frank everything I told you about the match fixing was a figment of my own imagination because I am so naive that I don’t even know how matches are done. They were promises just to be able to get something off you.”
Mr Nyantakyi said that he had not read the contract and he did not know about the deal to fix games. He said that the proposed match would have been handled by a licensed Fifa match agent and that he was unaware that Mr Forsythe had demanded £30,000 for the football association.
The football body has also reported the matter to FIFA and CAF.
In a statement, it said: “We wish to assure the public that we will not tolerate such misrepresentations and we will seek strong sanctions against such individuals if such claims are found to be true.”
Football match-fixing: on the trail of the Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi
Following an investigation by the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches into football match-fixing, The Telegraph goes in search of the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi
Gordon Rayner, Lewis Whyld, Holly Watt, Olivia Bolton
12:29PM BST 23 Jun 2014
The Telegraph’s chief reporter Gordon Rayner and photographer Lewis Whyld travelled 1,000 miles from Rio de Janeiro to Maceió on the Brazilian coast to try to interview Kwesi Nyantakyi at his hotel.
When they attempted to call Mr Nyantakyi in his hotel room, they were stopped by members of the Ghanaian FA in the hotel lobby and told to cease filming the encounter.
The Ghanaian FA press officer, Ibrahim Sannie Daara said that Mr Nyantakyi was unvailable for an interview.
The Telegraph wanted to speak to Mr Nyantakyi following the publication of video footage filmed in June showing him meeting undercover reporters at the St Regis Bal Harbour hotel in Miami.
The meeting was the culmination of a six month investigation by the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches into football match-fixing, in which representatives of “Diamond Capital” said they wanted to arrange football matches while appointing the referees.
Appointing referees is a common way of fixing the result of a football match. Before the Miami meeting, the fixers said that the President of the Ghana FA had raised concerns that he might be accidentally holding a meeting with undercover reporters.
Two fixers – Christopher Forsythe and Obed Nketiah – had arranged the Miami meeting, but Mr Nyantakyi had already spoken to the Diamond Capital representatives on Skype.
Over the course of the meeting, Mr Nyantakyi said that the sports investment group should have an “experimental period” before the Ghana FA agreed that all their friendly matches should be organised by Diamond.
Although the contract specifically stated that Diamond would appoint the referees – in direct breach of Fifa rules – Mr Nyantakyi only raised concerns about the exclusivity clause.
After being contacted by the Telegraph, the Ghana FA said they would report the matter to the police.
Football match-fixing history: referees guilty of fixing final scores in high-stakes games
6:00AM BST 23 Jun 2014
Football players are often seen as the most reliable way to fix a game – the jury in the match-fixing trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard that at least five were needed to guarantee a result.
However, the corruption of officials, especially referees, has also been used to guarantee scores and can offer a more reliable outcome of pushing the odds in the favour of gambling syndicates. The officials can add extra time, award penalties or favour a particular side throughout the match.
Convicted match-fixers such as Wilson Raj Perumal are understood to have used officials to guarantee scorelines. Companies connected to the Singaporean criminal have stated that they would be in charge of appointing referees to ensure they had control of the game – much like the contract that The Daily Telegraph and Dispatches gave to the president of the Ghana Football Association.
In recent years, referees have been involved in some high-profile fixes.
In Aug 2011, Fifa banned six referees for life after finding them guilty of match-fixing in a tournament in which all the goals were scored from penalties.
Charges were brought against the officials, from Hungary and Bosnia, after two friendly matches in Turkey. In the first game, which was under the control of three officials from Bosnia-Herzogovina, Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1.
The second match was a 2-2 draw between Bulgaria and Estonia, which was overseen by officials from Hungary.
All seven goals came from penalties, including one that was ordered to be retaken after the first effort was missed.
Fifa was alerted to concerns over the games in Antalya by all four countries, who shared concerns over the quality and origin of the match officials even before the games kicked off.
Irregular betting patterns on the matches, specifically the volume of bets for the total goals, are understood to have been drawn to Fifa’s attention.
In the same year, Fifa said it was trying to speak to a Niger referee who officiated in a match between Nigeria and Argentina. Nigeria won 4-1, after unusual betting patterns indicated it had been targeted by match-fixers. Nigeria was leading the game 4-0 until Ibrahim Chaibou awarded Argentina a penalty for handball in the eighth minute of injury time.
This was despite the fourth official having indicated just five minutes of extra time were due. Television replays showed the ball had hit a Nigerian player’s shin.
While the score was 4-0, a huge amount of money in the Asian gambling markets had been bet on a fifth goal being scored.
“There had been some crazy moves on the in-running market early in the game,” said Matthew Benham of SmartOdds, an online betting firm.
“With 86 minutes played, the odds for over 4.50 [a fifth goal to be scored] were absolutely insane. The market was effectively saying it was odds against that there would be no more goals.
“It is hard to get an exact figure for how much would have been bet to force that kind of swing, but we are certainly talking hundreds of thousands, possibly more than £1 million.
Mr Chaibou has been involved in controversial games before. He was in charge of a match in Sept when Bahrain beat a fake Togo team 3-0, which is also being investigated for potential match-fixing. The game was organised by Raj Perumal.
In 2010, he awarded three controversial penalties as South Africa beat Guatemala 5-0 in a World Cup warm-up.
– Ghana match-fixing deal casts cloud over World Cup
– ‘Referees can change matches every time,’ claims agent
– Referees guilty of fixing final scores in high-stakes games
– We need a sporting integrity unit to stamp out corruption