FIFA has recently come under immense scrutiny for two things — the Qatar bid for World Cup 2022 where allegations are being made that it was 'bought', and the claims of match-fixing that have been making the round since quite some time now — the issue reaching a crescendo after the recent Nigeria vs Scotland friendly which came under the cloud.
Recent New York Times reports have also exposed some details of matches being fixed, with Wilson Raj Perumal — one of the most notorious match-fixers out there — being involved via a firm he has set up in Singapore.
Perumal has also gone to jail for his crimes and the book Kelong Kings is a straight up confession from him about how he managed to fix games.
Excerpt from Kelong Kings, Chapter 5 – A frog in the well
In June 2007, just a couple of months ahead of the Merdeka Cup, Thana and I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa. Even though I had traveled to Atlanta with Pal and Uncle, the rest of my fixes had always taken place within the Singapore - Malaysia region. This was the first time that I ventured into Africa. In Johannesburg we were joined by Yap, whom their boss had entrusted with the 40 thousand dollars needed for the upcoming expenses.
"Why is this f**ker here?" I wondered.
I was thinking of marking up the price of the team's airline tickets to pocket an extra cut and had already shared my idea with Thana.
"There is the ticket money", I had tempted Thana. "Why don't we mark it up for about 20 thousand dollars".
Then I saw Yap, and he was carrying the 40 thousand dollars in his bag.
"F**k", I thought. "No choice. We'll have to divide by three".
We had money in our pockets so we didn't have to go to a boarding house or a cheap motel; we checked into the Holiday Inn, Garden Court, in Sandton City, a very nice, posh area near Johannesburg. I didn't really do any sight-seeing, I'll do that when I'm sixty or seventy. Although it was my first trip to South Africa, I spent most of the two days in Sandton walking around the shopping center and preparing myself to speak to the Zimbabwean FA.
Language is very important: things must be told in the right way so that when you put everything on the table, people don't back away.
"OK. That's 50-50-50, three matches, 150 thousand dollars", I ran the presentation over in my head. "Then, if we decide that you proceed to the next round of the tournament, it's another 50 thousand. In total, you'll be making about 200 thousand dollars", I paused. "That's a lot of money".
In order to convince someone that you've got a plan you need to speak like Robert De Niro. He is one of my favorite actors, as is Morgan Freeman; I like listening to them speak. It's not easy to sound like them; if only I were blessed with the way these guys talk, things would be much simpler. In my next life I wish to have Morgan Freeman's voice.
During our flight to Harare, Zimbabwe, Thana was tense.
"Are you sure that this kind of thing can be done?" he kept asking. "It seems like something out of a comic book to me".
"I can make it happen", I reassured him.
Deep inside I knew that the Zimbabweans needed money; one hundred US dollars in Zimbabwe was and is a lot of money, and here we were talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to my calculations, I had an 80 percent success rate; I had already fixed with Zimbabwe in 1997 and knew how vulnerable they were, I could almost read their minds.
As we drove from the airport to town, I thought: "F**k. This country is backdated".
Zimbabwe was like Malaysia in the 1970's, rubber trees and all, but the atmosphere was different. By 2007, Singapore and Malaysia were developed countries with tall buildings and skyscrapers but Zimbabwe seemed to have kept its ancient charm even in modern times. The countryside was a place that you could retire to; the rural areas were beautiful. There were many farms and there wasn't much traffic around. When we reached Harare things were much different; the roads were bad and there was a lot of poverty around. I was not surprised; it's what you anticipate when you travel to Africa.
I showed up at the Zimbabwe FA's offices with only a name-card in my pocket. The card was from World Wide Events and Sports International, the company founded by my former friend Chandar in 2001; Chandar had dissolved the company in 2005, while I was in prison, but then again, who the f**k is going to check once the money is on the table? I'm not a formal person and I don't like wearing ties, but I was nonetheless decently attired. I met the Zimbabwean FA official who introduced himself as Jumbojumbo.
"Jumbojumbo. This is your name?" I asked.
"Yeah", he nodded.
"Your parents gave you this name? Jumbojumbo?"
We have a pastry in Singapore that we call Jumbo-Jumbo and the name just kept popping up in my head as I looked at him. I tried not to laugh.
"Mr. Jumbojumbo", I said to him, "I am the promoter of the Merdeka Cup 2007, a tournament held to celebrate the independence of Malaysia. I'm looking for two African countries to invite. Zimbabwe's economic situation is quite bad and I want to give you the opportunity to travel to Malaysia and participate in an international event free of charge. We are talking about an eight-team tournament, a group stage, 4-4, semi-finals and a final. There is no prize money up for grabs and we will not pay you any appearance fee but we will give you 30 tickets to fly to Malaysia and have a good time".
Then I added, "If you want to make extra money, I also have another idea. You see, as a promoter of the tournament it is my duty to bring the host team to the final. Some teams will have to make way for the Malaysian team. We have a capacity crowd, we've got a decent gate collection, so Malaysia has to make it all the way. If you give me your cooperation, if the whole team cooperates, I will give you 50 thousand dollars per match".
I took a breather and let the numbers sink into Jumbojumbo's head.
"I don't know what it is that you will have to do to convince the FA", I murmured to him, "but do whatever is necessary to bring a team. The coach, the players; everybody needs to dance to our tune. We will pay you in cash upon completion of each job, 50 thousand dollars after each game. 50-50-50, three matches, 150 thousand dollars. Then, if we decide that you will qualify for the semi-finals, it's another 50. In total, you'll be making about 200 thousand dollars".
"That's a lot of money".
Jumbojumbo was nodding already, I dealt him the final blow.
"Everything is paid for: tickets, accommodation, extras... And here is ten thousand dollars for you. Take it as a gift on my part. I don't know if you will be able to convince your superiors. If you won't be, then just keep these ten thousand. But if you will, then there will be 200 thousand dollars waiting for you out there in Malaysia".
Jumbojumbo reached out, took the ten thousand and observed them as he turned the stack over in his trembling fingers.
"Think about it", I concluded as I made to get up. "I'll give you a call tomorrow".
The next day, I called Jumbojumbo.
"We are ready", he exclaimed. "No problem".
We'll have another excerpt from the book tomorrow.
For further information on the book visit www.kelongkings.com
Readers who are interested in more information on the independent investigative journalism portal, production company and publisher Invisible Dog should visit www.invisible-dog.com — co-writers of the book Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano are founders of Invisible Dog.
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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2014 10:55:16 IST