Nigerian football agent in match-fixing scandal in Italy

A potential match fixer has been caught on film suggesting he could arrange a yellow card during a World Cup game for more than £41,000 and a penalty for £81,000.

Football agent Henry Chukwuma Okoroji was caught telling an undercover reporter that he could fix games and organise certain outcomes during the tournament which starts in Brazil later this month.

It comes just days after the National Crime Agency (NCA) investigated allegations that a friendly between Nigeria and Scotland had been targeted by criminal syndicates.

Speaking from a hotel room in Milan, Italy, the businessman and his associate, only known as Joe, told the reporter a list of prices he would have to pay for different outcomes, including a a red card.

He said a yellow card would set them back 50,000 euros (£40,660) and a penalty 100,000 euros (£81,370).

In an attempt to enhance their credibility, the pair also invited Lazio and Nigerian footballer Ogenyi Onazi to the meeting, however there is no suggestion he was involved any fixing plot.

Speaking to The Sun’s undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood, Okoroji said he had already recruited two Nigerian players for this summer’s tournament and was planning to fly to Brazil to oversee his scams during the tournament.

The agent said: ‘Hundred per cent, two players. It’s left up to you people what you want to do. You will pay for a yellow or a red card or a penalty.’

After making the offer, Okoroji rang a prominent Nigerian player and claimed he had agreed to take part in the fix.

But Okoroji said: ‘The player cannot come because of his career, which is true. These things you cannot speak on the phone because they are monitoring, all agents, are monitoring his calls.

Okoroji claims he was a professional footballer and got into match-fixing after he was approached as a player.

During the conversation with the paper, he also said he could speak to a senior figure in the Nigerian Football Federation to influence squad selection for forthcoming tournament.

A spokesman for the NCA, who are now said to be investigating the claims,  said: ‘The NCA will from time to time provide operational detail necessary for public reassurance purposes.’

‘It does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of specific operations or provide ongoing commentary on operational activity.’

The tournament begins in two weeks and England’s first game is against Italy on June 13.

Last week an investigation was launched over claims of attempted match-fixing for the World Cup friendly between Scotland and Nigeria.

In April 13 professional footballers were arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing and another six rearrested over the claims.

Despite the allegations, England are confident the game at its highest levels is clean of the scourge of match-fixing, a survey conducted by international players’ union FIFPro has revealed.

Over 1,500 players from eight countries – England, Scotland, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovenia – submitted responses to a questionnaire that tested their knowledge about the extent of fixing, approaches to fix matches, sharing inside information and betting rules.

There have been a series of arrests following suspected attempts to fix matches in the lower English football leagues in recent months. There have also been allegations of illicit activity in cricket.

Source:Punch News


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