Last updated: February 10, 2013 5:42 am

Singapore to help match-fixing probe

Singapore is to send police officers to Europe to help with a growing probe into an international football match-fixing syndicate as the city-state has come under pressure to show it is doing more to tackle sports betting crime allegedly masterminded from Asia.

The move is the latest development after a football match-fixing investigation by police in 13 European countries this week concluded that the attempted or successful manipulation of more than 380 professional matches over the past five years was orchestrated by a Singapore-based network.

“As evidence of alleged match-fixing needs to be further developed in order for our law enforcement agencies to take concrete follow-up actions against the alleged suspects, [we] will send our officers to Interpol to assist in the current investigations and join the global fight against match-fixing and illegal betting in football,” said a statement from Singapore’s police force on Friday.

“Singapore remains highly committed in the fight against match-fixing and other transnational crimes. If evidence of such crimes exist, the police will pursue the case vigorously with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice,” the statement said.

Ron Noble, Interpol’s secretary-general, said he welcomed Singapore’s “increased and direct involvement” to target match-fixers, which he believed would lead to “positive and visible” results.

But he called for an end to “finger-pointing”, saying: “This concerted effort going forward should not only involve law enforcement but also prosecutors, footballing industry and the betting industry to use the information and intelligence which has been gathered and turn it into concrete results.”

The move was also welcomed by Ralf Mutschke, Fifa’s head of security. “We welcome this initiative from the Singapore police very much. This is the right approach in our joint fight against match manipulation,” Mr Mutschke said.

His predecessor, Chris Eaton, said Singapore’s activity was “delayed and belated, but it’s better late than never”.

This concerted effort going forward should not only involve law enforcement but also prosecutors, footballing industry and the betting industry

- Ron Noble, secretary-general of Interpol

Mr Eaton, now at the International Centre for Sport Security, added: “It saddens me that we have to resort to significant media pressure before this takes place.”

He said he believed the number of people in the Singapore-based network were “in the tens”, but that it was probably not the only such operation in the city-state

Singapore has had a thriving football betting culture since gambling on local matches was legalised in 1999 and on international matches played locally in 2002.

However, some local publications, including the New Paper, have reported extensively on match-fixing involving games in the region, fuelling concern that Asia has become a centre for illegal sports betting. Match-fixers have even entered the vernacular in Singapore, where they are known as “kelong kings”.

Interpol last month held a conference in Rome into match-fixing and what it called “the adverse influence of the Asian betting markets and organised crime on football”.

This article has been amended to reflect the fact that Interpol has not issued a warrant for the arrest of Dan Tan Seet Eng a Singaporean financier.

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