The shadow match fixing casts over the world of soccer right now is darker than in quite a while and FIFA indications are that a high profile international friendly was in fact “fixed.” The world governing body’s “early warning system” has produced data that suggests that the game involving Nigeria and Argentina may well have been subject to fixing. It came after a huge swing in the Asian handicap betting markets and suspicions surrounding the officiating team who took change.
The news comes only a matter of hours after Greece’s Football Association shut down all operations due to match fixing allegations and this is big news for FIFA. Argentina can legitimately claim to be one of the giants of world soccer and possess the best player in the world in Leo Messi. So for this to involve them is highly embarrassing for FIFA. Saying that the two sides don’t seem to be at fault here whatsoever. It all comes down to the men dressed in all black.
Ibrahim Chaibou, of Niger, and Hamani Tinni Tondo might not ring a bell in anyone’s heads apart from those who collect cigarette cards with referees on. If we tell you that these two also officiated the notorious game involving a “fake” Togo team in Bahrain last year, it’s understandable that the allegations carry significant weight.
The controversy came after a large amount was wagered on a fifth goal being scored before Argentina were awarded a “penalty.” It was converted by Mauro Boselli and the alarm was raised.
Musa Amadu, secretary general of the Nigerian Football Federation, specifically requested Chaibou as they always look to recruit from neighboring countries. He said, “We wrote on April 6 of this year to the general secretary of the Niger federation requesting international Fifa badge-holder Chaibou to officiate in the match against Argentina, and to ask Niger to appoint two other officials.
“On May 11 they wrote back and confirmed that Chaibou would be available. They also named the assistant referees as Mamane Abdoulaye and Hamani Tinni Tondo.
“Chaibou is a respected referee in Africa and has officiated in many international matches, and we always try to use referees from adjoining countries.
“We had no concerns over his history, and if there was anything to suggest that he was not honest and competent to officiate in the game we would not have appointed him.
“This is an unwanted issue because this was our best result in international football.”
The accused may complain that this is simply a case of mud sticking. You only have to watch the questionable penalty decision below to realize that it might not be just mud that the officials have to worry about.