A Quick Primer
There is an international match fixer living in Singapore who has, according to numerous different European police agencies helped fix hundreds of football matches around the world.
Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for him. The Singaporean government has responded by giving them, FIFA, European police investigators and the international sporting community the finger.
They have given the finger in true-Singaporean fashion – lots of flabby excuses and illogical media statements – but basically they have told Interpol/FIFA where it can put its warrants.
Strangely, Interpol and FIFA have taken this crap from the Singaporeans.
Instead of standing up to them, they are engaged in a monstrous media spin campaign to convince journalists that:
i) The problem is serious and they are right on top of it.
ii) The problem is not that serious, but they are still right on top of it.
iii) The problem is serious and the Singaporean police are helping them out, not by actually arresting any internationally wanted criminals who live in Singapore, but by coming to visit Interpol and having a series of meetings with them.
iv) Besides, why is everyone so hung up on this ‘arresting people’ thing? An international police agency is more like an educational institution where you tour the world convincing people of the dangers of the illicit drug trade – and look how successful Interpol has been in stopping all the drug-dealers!
v) Err, that is it, until that troublesome Canadian journalist says something else…
Here then is a quick primer of situation over the last couple of weeks. It is an adaptation of an interview with the superb football journalist Jerrad Peters at the ‘Bleacher Report’ site.
B/R: What did the Europol press conference tell us?
DH: We know that there have been at least 360 matches that are considered to have been fixed in the last couple seasons in European football. What we didn’t know going into that press conference was that there were 300 matches in Asia, Latin America and Africa that were also suspicious, and what was truly shocking about that number is that at least 150 of them were national team matches.
For example, Zimbabwe vs. Malaysia, or games at that level. There aren’t that many games at that level, so 150 of them—that’s a pretty high proportion. It’s about one a week. If I were a jam-making factory and between one and five percent of my product was toxic, you’d better hope I was going to be closed down.
B/R: Sepp Blatter claimed that many of the matches in question had already been “dealt with” by both FIFA and the authorities. Is this an accurate claim?
DH: To say that all those cases in Asia, Latin American and Africa have been dealt with is disingenuous at best. For FIFA to pretend that this is being dealt with an international level is outrageous, because it speaks to the very governance of football. We’re talking about one to five percent of the games that happen every week under the direct watch of FIFA being fixed.
B/R: What’s the first thing FIFA should do if they’re serious about tackling this problem?
DH: Somebody at FIFA has to stand up and say, “You know what, Singapore? We don’t like this. Your people are going around the world fixing matches in our countries.”
Just say, “Look, we think you should sit out the next international tournament; we think you should sit out the World Cup and the Olympics.”
It would send a clear message to Singapore: “Hey guys, we’re not having your garbage. You’re dumping a bunch of garbage into our sport, and we’re serious about cleaning it up. And you know what? Banning you doesn’t cost any money; it’s not complicated. What we’ll do is we’ll put this ban into place for the next two years. And if you arrest [the fixers] and put into place the sort of measures that show us you’re serious about cleaning up match fixing in your jurisdiction—fine, come back. But if you’re not, we just don’t want you.”
That’s what has to be done. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s very simple to do.
B/R: And the broader authorities?
DH: We’re at a very rare case where we can sum everything up in one sentence. And that sentence is, “Dan Tan must be arrested.”
B/R: Who is Dan Tan?
DH: Dan Tan is an international match-fixer who is alleged to have fixed matches in dozens of different countries. Some Italian media claim that he is “the No. 1 wanted man in Italy.” Think about all the mob people in Italy – the Mafia, the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta – and the Italian media is calling him “the No. 1 wanted man in Italy.” That’s a huge thing. That’s really, really big.
There’s an Interpol international arrest warrant, but Interpol is clearly not interested in pushing the Singaporean government to serve that arrest warrant. The Singaporean government has basically given the finger to Interpol and FIFA and the international community and made up a bunch of excuses as to why they’re not serving it.
Note: Interpol is – now – trying to spin that the arrest warrant they served was not really an ‘arrest warrant’ it was more like an international parking summons, well, actually more like an international parking ticket, that governments and suspects can ignore if they do not want to pay the fine. Please! This is spin. Poor old Interpol is in a crisis of credibility over their entire campaign against match-fixing. Bless them, but take their statements with the seriousness they deserve.
B/R: Is Dan Tan where the problem begins, or are there others like him, or even more powerful than him?
DH: He’s a broker. There are people much more powerful than he is. Look, you can’t have that many matches being fixed without international officials being involved.
Let’s be really clear here: I’m not talking about Sepp Blatter and the guys in Zurich. I don’t think they’re fixing matches. I really don’t. They don’t need that. But I do think there are presidents and senior executives of national football associations—i.e. the guys who vote for Blatter—who are fixing.
And I think if we were to put Dan Tan on trial in a neutral location, promise him a protection deal, do the stuff we have to do to get a fair testimony…and if he told everything he knew, it would shake world soccer. It would be a huge scandal, but we would do an immense amount of good toward cleaning up the problem, and then we would move on.
He’s the centre of a network, he knows lots of people. And if you get him you could get lots of other people. You could set fixing back three to five years in which time leagues around the world could put into place all sorts of really good, sensible measures that wouldn’t cost all that much money, and you could make fixing a small side issue.
B/R: What are we risking if match fixing is allowed to continue unchecked?
DH: If we don’t arrest Dan Tan, you can just give up the game within five to ten years. Just give up. Because if we don’t arrest him it means the people we have tasked with dealing with this issue have with doing this have failed, that they’re deliberately complicit with failure. If fixing is tolerated, why would you bother? Why would you bother paying attention to this game?
What Interpol and FIFA, and now sadly UEFA, are doing is they’re getting caught up in this battle for credibility instead of rolling up their sleeves and saying, “My goodness, Dan Tan must be arrested. We’re going to put all our efforts into doing that.”