sport

New probe into match-fixing

Police have confirmed that six people are in custody as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations involving former Portsmouth defender Sam Sodje.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is examining evidence provided by the Sun on Sunday, which shows Sodje on camera claiming that he could arrange for footballers to get themselves booked in return for cash.

The newspaper said an undercover investigator met the player, who appeared to say he could offer the same deal for Premier League games and was prepared to rig matches at next summer's World Cup finals.

The video also suggests that Sodje told the reporter he was paid 70,000 to get himself deliberately sent off in a game for Portsmouth against Oldham, when he twice punched Jose Baxter in the groin to incur a red card.

An NCA statement read: "We can confirm that the Sun on Sunday has passed material from its own investigation to the National Crime Agency.

"An active NCA investigation is now underway and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission. Six people are in custody and are being questioned by NCA officers. We cannot comment further at this stage."

Portsmouth admitted they were stunned by the allegations, and vowed to assist the police with their investigation.

Pompey spokesman Colin Farmery said: "If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.

"The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would co-operate fully with any inquiry."

The newspaper also claimed that Oldham player Cristian Montano failed to get a yellow card in return for money in a match against Wolves on October 22 and offered to take part in another rigging incident.

Oldham said in a statement: "Oldham Athletic Football Club has been made aware of the incident and allegation surrounding one of its players, Cristian Montano. The club will commence an immediate internal investigation to establish all the relevant facts of the case.

"The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot comment on specific facts at this stage. The club will not be issuing any further statements at this time."

Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey added: "We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness.

"Given that there is an ongoing police investigation into this matter, we cannot comment further at this time.

"We would encourage anyone with any evidence to report it to the police. We will be giving our full assistance to the Police during their investigation."

A short statement from the Football Association read: "The FA is aware of the National Crime Agency investigation and is working closely with the NCA and other authorities. We will make no further comment at this time."

The NCA is already carrying out a separate investigation into an alleged international illegal betting syndicate.

Non-league Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were charged this week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.

The pair, who played for Conference South club Whitehawk FC in Brighton, were sacked by their club and will appear in court on Wednesday.

Two other men, Chann Sankaran, 33, from Hastings, East Sussex, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, from Singapore, were charged last month with plotting to defraud bookmakers and will also appear in court this week.