Ex-Portsmouth Footballer At Centre Of Match-Fixing Claims

Six people remain in custody after being arrested in connection with a second investigation into football spot-fixing, following allegations that an ex-Portsmouth player rigged a Championship game for cash.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it acted after being passed information by the Sun on Sunday newspaper.

The tabloid reported that an undercover investigator met ex-Pompey defender Sam Sodje, who allegedly said he could arrange for footballers in the Championship to get themselves a yellow card in return for tens of thousands of pounds.

The 34-year-old also claimed he could rig Premier League games and even said he was preparing to fix matches at next year's World Cup in Brazil, the newspaper reported.

Detectives from the NCA were still questioning the six men this morning.

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers' Association, said the organisation had debated match-fixing on previous occasions.

He told The Sun:

"What is important is that The FA, Premier League and Football League continue to make sure our game is continuing to move forward.

"Whether it is cricket or football all around the world there are issues in this 24/7 internet and social media world that puts a lot of pressure on.

"There needs to be really strong leadership at the top.''

Responding to the claims about Sodje yesterday, Portsmouth FC 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 cooperate fully with any inquiry.''

An NCA spokeswoman said:

"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.''

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

Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were charged last week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.

The pair, who played for Conference South club Whitehawk FC in Brighton, were dismissed 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.

Speaking about the latest reports, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said:

"We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness.''

In a statement, the Football Association said:

"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.''

A Gambling Commission spokesman said:

"The Gambling Commission has responded quickly in supporting this ongoing National Crime Agency investigation and continues to liaise with both the NCA and the Football Association.''

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said:

"These allegations, if proven, unfortunately demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the game in educating players of these risks.

"We take the issue of integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this evil from our game.

"In terms of these specific reports, due to the ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency, we are unable to comment further at this time.''

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