…he’s not leaving Leicester – Agent
Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi’s stellar season so far has attracted another European giants Barcelona who are reportedly preparing a bid for the Leicester City’s star in the summer.
Ndidi has been one of the top performers in Europe this term; recent statistics even showed he has had the best number of tackles in England and second in the whole of the continent, his interceptions, ball distribution have been considered top notch.
Liverpool’s Manager Jurgen Klopp has been a keen admirer of the Nigeria international whom he plans to snap up at the end of the season but reports have now suggested Barcelona are ready to rival the Reds for the midfielder’s signature.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Vaiverde has regarded Ndidi as the long term entity in Blaugrana’s midfield as Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho already entering their 30s. He’s said to be particularly impressed with the player’s passing ability after averaging 75% pass accuracy per game, something that suits the Barcelona pattern perfectly.
Meanwhile, allnigeriasoccer.com quoted a source close to Ndidi that the player was not ready to leave Leicester City as the club planed to build a new strong team around the Nigerian.
”Ndidi is not leaving Leicester City, the interest from Barcelona is news to us, there has been no contact. They want to build the team around him,” the top source told allnigeriasoccer.com.
”The management of Leicester City believes in him, they want to do everything possible to make the club bigger.
”They have won the Premier League before and want to win it again, that’s why Riyad Mahrez was not sold in January.”
The 21-year-old is contracted to Leicester City until the end of the end of the 2021-2022 season.
Great football playing countries plagued by match fixing
It is called the ‘beautiful game’ following the beautiful display of soccer artistry associated with it on the field of play. Players and coaches put in utmost dedication and commitment to get favourable result and as it is customary with sports, in football, you win some, you lose some. It, however, leaves a sour taste in the mouth when some victories and losses were arranged by some interested parties who make fortunes fixing matches across the world. This scourge is still plaguing the game in top football playing countries of the world, DAPO SOTUMINU writes
In Italy match-fixing has over time led to large-scale investigations. The scourge of match manipulations in the country was at its highest in 2011 when a probe was set up to investigate the criminal trial of dozens of coaches and players engaged in the dirty deals. Antonio Conte, who was mentioned in the thick of the scandal, was eventually cleared of any role in the scandal that was linked to 18 games including Serie A matches. A top player, Giuseppe Signori, led the list of 16 people arrested that year. Signori, got the hammer as he was banned from any football-related activity for five years. Over one year, a total of 47 players and coaches were arrested on separate allegations. Ten other people classified as Mafia were arrested. There were other rigging in 2014 that involved Serie B games. At the probe, Italian police revealed the existence of an organised group linked to a local clan that primarily dealt in drugs but managed to make illicit profits in the region of $112,000 per game. Seven of the suspects were jailed. The scandal plagued Italian football and took away a lot of credibility.
In 2005 a referee in the German League, Robert Hoyzer, was linked to £1.7 million match-fixing scandal. He admitted to high level match fixing to a betting gang from Croatia as he confessed manipulating 10 professional football matches in exchange for money. One of the persons who gave money to the referee was sentenced to two years and eleven months in prison for ten cases of fraud by the Federal Supreme Court of Justice (BGH), while referee Hoyzer, got a two years and five months sentence for aiding fraud in six cases. In 2009, investigators busted a syndicate gang based in Bochum after being alleged to have fixed 300 games across Europe. Fifteen people were arrested in Germany and two in Switzerland following more than 50 raids across those two countries, Austria and Britain during which cash and property worth more than €1m (£900,000) was seized. At least 200 people, including 32 players, are suspected of being involved.
In 2005 a group of millionaire investors bribed two referees to fix results. The referees were, Edilson Pereira de Carvalho and Paulo Jose Danelon, they were manipulated to fix matches determined by two betting companies, Aebet and Futbet. The investors made millionaire bets on the betting websites. Edílson confessed he got $4,400 to fix the result of the Brazilian National Championship matches. He said he took the money, to fix the results because of his personal problem of having debts to pay. The 11 Brazilian National Championship matches refereed by Edílson were declared null and void, and replayed, according to the ruling of the Supreme Court of Sporting Justice (STJD.
The European Union identified Singapore as the base for a vast web of match fixers who are believed to have manipulated games in Asia and Europe for years. The country was labeled as an “academy of match-fixers.” Singapore Pools, which runs legalised lotteries in the country, was part of an international alliance called Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) formed by 29 operators from 27 countries. It provides data on sports betting, and this information is analysed to detect any unusual betting irregularities. The GLMS has flagged 822 alerts from June 2015. Singapore remains vulnerable to allowing match-fixing crimes to infiltrate its system. June 2013, in Singapore, three Lebanese match officials were found guilty of accepting free sex as an inducement to rig an AFC Cup. All three were jailed. Some Singaporean businessmen caught in the web of match fixing were accused of providing prostitutes for three Lebanese match officials to manipulate matches in the country.
The match fixing in the Chinese league was so bad that, 33 players and officials were banned for life and 12 clubs penalised after a three-year probe into match manipulations. In 2003, the present club of Nigerian international soccer star, Obafemi Martins, Shanghai Shenhua were fined one million yuan (£100,000) and stripped of their 2003 league title for rigging a game. Match-fixing and bribery used to be a regular occurrence in Chinese football, at a time players were paid poorly. For violation of match manipulations, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) fined 12 clubs £103,000 and punished 58 football officials, players and referees for match-fixing and bribery. The usual practice was players receiving strange phone calls from syndicates to throw away matches to thousands of pounds.
The scourge of match fixing, was more on the sour taste as 44 Hungarians and one Singaporean national were sentenced to 16 years in prison each for their part in an international match- fixing conspiracy dating back to 2009. The culprits manipulated 32 games, including games involving the national team.
The match fixing problem in Turkey has taken another dimension, when a club president, Aziz Yildirim, of Fenerbahce, was among 30 people arrested in a match-fixing inquiry. He received a three-year sentence but was released on bail pending an appeal, and was re-elected as president. He insists on his innocence. Nigerian star player, Emmanuel Emenike was also caught in the mix-up. The millionaire Super Eagles of Nigeria player was forced to leave Turkey for another country during the heat of the persecution. In 2012, a Turkish special-authorized state court sentenced many people to various prison sentences.
Wilson Raj Perumal, who was named as a contact by the fixer at the centre of this week’s allegations involving English teams, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2011 for bribing players in the Finnish league. Seven Zambian and two Georgian players from Rovaniemi received suspended sentences. Finnish football has been rocked by a match-fixing scandal which has implications across the world. Betting syndicates have been said to make as much as $1.5m (£0.9m) from fixed games. Tampere FC, Finland’s former champions, was once suspended due to suspicion of match fixing. The club received $435,000 from a Singapore company, but officials could not explain why they had been given such a large sum. Money-laundering is suspected. Seven Zambians and two Georgians who used to play for a different club in the north of the country were accused of accepting bribes worth more than $750,000 to affect the outcome of matches. In the same trial Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean, is charged with arranging the payments. Some years ago, two Zambian brothers who played for another Finnish side were convicted of taking bribes from Mr Perumal.
In 2011, all Australian sports ministers endorsed on behalf of their governments, a National Policy on Match-fixing in Sport (the National Policy) with the aim of protecting the integrity of Australian sport. The National Policy, which is strongly welcomed by sporting codes and the betting industry, is underpinned by a nationally consistent legislative approach, strong links between governments, major sports, betting operators and law enforcers, and international collaboration. In the 2009 season, the Melbourne Football Club scandal – the AFL found two players guilty of “acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the competition”. Southern Stars FC players were accused of match fixing in the Victorian Premier League
The Zimbabwe Football Association banned 15 players and officials for life in 2012 following their involvement in a match-fixing scandal dating back to 2007. About 80 footballers were suspended because of alleged involvement in Asian betting syndicates linked to match-fixing. Match-fixers “within and outside” the Zimbabwe Football Association targeted games in Africa’s two biggest competitions and in the top league in South Africa, with the former head coach of the Zimbabwe national team one of the “chief suspects,” documents seen by The Associated Press say. A Zimbabwe FA Executive, Edzai Kasinauyo was suspended on suspicion of planning to fix Zimbabwe’s two upcoming qualifiers against Swaziland in the African Nations Cup. Former Chief Executive of ZIFA, Henrietta Rushwaya, had a life ban from a previous match-fixing scandal involving Zimbabwe’s national team. This was later overturned. The emergence of serious match fixing allegations at the Zimbabwe federation is another blow to football’s image. Current Zimbabwe coach, Callisto Pasuwa, and 20-year-old national team goalkeeper, Tatenda Mukuruva, were approached by the fixers and asked to throw games. Players were offered $5,000 each for every game fixed, ZIFA believes.
In the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) the centre referee, in that season’s crucial game between MFC Football club and FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Marcus Bwashi confessed that she has been ordered to favour FC Ifeanyi Ubah by all means against MFM FC. A top referee chief has been fingered as the mastermind of the match fixing scandal set to rock the match. Referees performance has been shameful in the NPFL and the reason for violence in our stadia. Our referees are no doubt the major cause, since they receive monies from home teams. Both home and away teams specially demand for referees to officiate their games form the Referee’s Appointment Committee Violence could only end in Nigeria football if the officials were sincere. Nigeria was implicated in another football match-fixing scandal, with the revelation that the friendly match between the Super Eagles and North Korea on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was manipulated. The Super Eagles won the friendly against the North Korean side by 3-1. It was a script of a notorious and gambling Singaporean syndicate, Football 4U, which picked the referees for that match. This is as a result Asia’s largely unregulated but lucrative betting market.
In 2011, the friendly between Bahrain and Togo was classified as a fake match. Bahrain won 3-0, in a match was organised by Wilson Raj Perumal and was refereed by Ibrahim Chaibou. At least $60,000 was spent on flights, hotels and other expenses. In that game, the Bahrain team lined up against 11 players in Togo jerseys. The Togo players weren’t as good as the Bahrainians expected, and the Persian Gulf team won 3-0. The Togo Football Federation was surprised by the game itself because the Hawks of Togo wasn’t actually in Bahrain on the day of the match, but were in a bus returning from an official game in Botswana.
FIFA had no option but to ban three South African referees for their role in fixing friendlies before the 2010 World Cup and issued bans to several officials and players in an Italian match-fixing scandal as well. A FIFA report found “compelling evidence” that pre-tournament matches involving the host nation had been fixed, with Wilson Raj Perumal at the centre of appointing referees for their games. South African football was embroiled in another scandal when FIFA said the Bafana Bafana’s World Cup qualifying win over Senegal was fixed. Ghanaian referee, Joseph Lamptey was banned for life for his role in that match. The revelation follows allegations that South Africa paid a $10 million bribe to help secure the rights to the 2010 World Cup and that officials were duped by an Asian betting syndicate over the results of warm-up matches before the finals.
Spanish football’s lower divisions are showing a disturbing level of betting-related fixed matches. What is more concerning is that neither the Spanish Federation (RFEF) or LaLiga are showing any signs of taking action to stop the match-fixers, clubs or players, despite having been made aware of the issues. Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme that involved players and clubs in the country’s lower leagues. Working in conjunction with Europol, police detained over 20 people involved in the operation. A list of more than 10 matches in the January to December 2017 period conducted by Sportradar where there are highly suspicious betting patterns. The matches all take place in the third and fourth tiers of the Spanish leagues which globally account for an estimated betting market of about €580 million per season. Spanish prosecutors are seeking two-year prison sentences and six-year soccer bans for 36 players accused of match-fixing in the Spanish league seven years ago. A match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in Spain’s lower divisions has been dismantled by police, La Liga has announced. More than 20 people were detained across Spain as part of an operation launched by police, in conjunction with Europol.
Prosecutors in Graz said they were investigating suspected match-fixing of 15 second-tier games between 2009 and 2011. A regional court has dismissed appeals by former Austria international Sanel Kuljic and seven others against their convictions in the country’s biggest match-fixing scandal. In 2014, Kuljic and former Kapfenberg teammate Dominique Taboga were sentenced to five and three years in prison, respectively, for leading the batting scam, which included manipulation of 18 domestic league games in Austria’s first and second divisions from 2004-13. The players allegedly received $7,980 and $28,500 per match to influence the outcome of the games, enabling their backers from Austria, Albania, Serbia and Chechnya to earn betting profits. Kuljic was sentenced to five years’ in prison for his part in the country’s biggest-ever match-fixing scandal. Twenty current and former footballers in the Austrian league are being treated as suspects over match-fixing and up to 17 first and second division matches could have been manipulated in the last seven years, criminal investigators said. New evidence in the Austrian football show how players of Albanian origin are involved in match fixing.
Gold Coast 2018: Omidiran protests exclusion of female athletes
A member of the House Committee on Sports, Honourable Ayo Omidiran, has promised to carry placards in Abuja later this week protesting the exclusion of female table tennis players from the next edition of the Commonwealth Games, slated for the Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to 15, 2018.
Honourable Omidiran, added her voice to that of five times Nigerian Olympian, Funke Oshonaike and multiple Olympian, Offiong Edem, who were members of the female team excluded from the Team Nigeria Table Tennis squad to the Games. The Sports Ministry had said that, the girls were dropped because of the comparative advantage of the male players to win medals.
The Sports Ministry advised the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation to drop the four women team members that should have been registered for the Games out of the nine slots available to Team Nigeria for the sport. From the Games regulations, Nigeria’s nine slots will be made up of five male and four female players. But as it is, they have been told to forget about the dream of competing at the Gold Coast 2018, as there is no guarantee they were going to win medals for the country.
A visibly miffed Omidiran, stated that, if the Sports Ministry does not rescind the decision to exclude the female table tennis players from the Games, she will be forced to carry placards in Abuja during the week to press home the displeasure of Nigerian women on the visibly marginalization of female athletes from the Commonwealth Games after doing so well to qualify for the Games.
Chelsea coach warns defenders over Iheanacho
Ahead of today’s FA Cup quarter final match between Chelsea FC and Leicester FC, Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte, has warned his defenders to be fully alert while marking Nigeria international striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, as the coach classified the former Golden Eaglets World cup winner as the main Leceister City’s danger man.
The Italian coach stated that his players would have to keep an eye on the Nigerian star that will be combining upfront with other Leicester top strikers Jamie Vardy, and Shinji Okazaki at the King Power Stadium.
Conte said: ”We have special plans to try to defend well. For sure we all know the characteristics about Vardy. He’s a very clever player,” Conte told reporters.
”He’s very good to attack the space, to find the right time to attack the space. Also we have to pay attention if Leicester play Iheanacho or Okazaki in the front.”
Iheanacho has been prolific in this season’s FA Cup having scored four goals in five matches.
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