Ghana’s gallant World Cup campaign has been overshadowed by accusations of match-fixing against their Football Association.
The Black Stars were narrowly defeated 2-1 by the USA in their opening match, before being unfortunate not to grab all three points in their 2-2 draw with Germany.
However, a cloud has now been cast over their heroics after The Telegraph uncovered a deal that would see Ghana take part in matches that had already been rigged.
Obed Nketiah, a senior figure on the board of the Ghanaian FA, and Christopher Forsythe, a FIFA agent, are alleged to have plans to fix games using corrupt officials.
Nketiah was filmed by the newspaper, in conjunction with Channel Four’s ‘Dispatches’ programme, saying, “you have to give them (the referees) something”.
“The referees can change the matches every time. Even in England it does happen”, Forsythe added.
The matches in question have been scrapped from the international schedule. The revelations will come as a huge disappointment to the country’s footballing stars, including Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan, and Kevin Prince-Boateng, all formerly of the Premier League.
There is no suggestion that any players had any knowledge of or involvement in match-fixing, and it is not related to the World Cup.
This particular anti-corruption investigation, which is believed to have been ongoing for some time, will carry extra importance after the first modern convictions for attempted match-fixing related to football. Two businessmen from Singapore, named as Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan were found guilty, as was former footballer Michael Boateng, who most recently plied his trade with Whitehawk.
Ahead of the final round of World Cup group matches, FIFA have announced they will be putting the fixtures under added scrutiny, because of fears of rigging.
FIFA’s security chief Ralf Mutschke explained that the games are particularly vulnerable because many teams no longer have anything at stake, with the outcomes of many of the groups already decided.
There is a “level of higher vulnerability…when some teams already know what will happen”, he said. With that in mind, FIFA have been taking extra precautions to prevent illegal activity, and match officials have been given tutorials to teach them how to handle any approaches by criminal betting syndicates.
Though no World Cup matches are linked to the latest accusations, they are bound to bring a renewed level of cynicism, particularly in light of a number of high-profile refereeing decisions which have been up for debate.
Sadly, as the battle for the World Cup continues on the field, off it the beautiful game is threatening to reveal its ugliest face.
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