Singaporean Tamil behind football's fixing disclosure

FP

When Rob Wainwright, head of the European anti-crime agency Europol, told a news conference on Monday that over 680 football matches across the world could have been rigged, he was likely revealing information provided in large part by a Singaporean man of Tamil origin, now in jail for match-fixing.

Wilson Raj Perumal, 47, was the front man for a Chinese criminal syndicate run from Singapore, and had fixed hundreds of matches across five continents, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in gambling winnings for Asian and European syndicates. He was arrested in Finland in February 2011, and had decided to switch sides in exchange for protective custody.

The ugliest ever match-fixing scandal in the Beautiful Game involved World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, and a Champions League game played in England, police said.

On Tuesday, the football association of Singapore said it was continuing "to work closely with the relevant authorities, both at the domestic and international levels" in the probe. The Singaporean police said they were "assisting the European authorities in their investigations into an international match-fixing syndicate that purportedly involves Singaporeans".

Media reports from Singapore profile Perumal, who was fluent in English and had a Singaporean passport, as a petty criminal involved in several cases of housebreaking, theft, forgery and cheating, and whose initial attempts at match-fixing had been both ineffective and crude.

He was jailed in 1995 after being convicted of paying a football captain $ 3,000 to throw a game, and was again convicted five years later for attacking a player in Singapore's Woodlands Wellington team, in an attempt to harm the side's chances for a subsequent game.

With time, however, Perumal was to turn into a smooth operator, probably the most successful man ever to have fixed a football match. A report published by ESPN.com last year called Perumal the "world's most prolific criminal fixer of soccer matches".

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