Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Liverpool game was not fixed - it's old news, claim Debrecen

Debrecen v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League...BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - NOVEMBER 24:  David Ngog of Liverpool scores the first goal during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Debrecen and Liverpool at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium on November 24, 2009 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)...S
Debrecen v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League...BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - NOVEMBER 24: David Ngog of Liverpool scores the first goal during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Debrecen and Liverpool at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium on November 24, 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)...S

Hungarian authorities expect to complete their investigation into match-fixing, which has received information from sources in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, by the end of this month amid growing focus on the country in the wake of allegations that a Debrecen player was involved in attempts to fix a Champions League match against Liverpool in 2009.

 

The club dismissed reports in a Danish newspaper that the fixture was one of 680 games being investigated by five different European countries under the coordination of Europol, while neither Liverpool nor Merseyside police have been informed of any investigation by Europol or any other European police force.

Debrecen said the allegations had already been dealt with by a Uefa investigation two years ago which resulted in their goalkeeper, Vukasin Poleksic, being banned for two years for failing to report advances made to him by a fixer. It is thought this is the first time there has been a public acknowledgement that there were concerns surrounding the Liverpool fixture.

Poleksic was approached to help fix games against Liverpool and Fiorentina – the second of which has been the subject of a German police investigation into a Croatian gang and was widely known about – but, according to a statement Debrecen released at the time of Uefa's inquiry and re-released on Tuesday, "the investigation revealed that Poleksic rejected the requests. Furthermore, the probe found that the matches were not influenced by anything connected with the bribery".

The Hungarian club otherwise kept its counsel apart from a brief statement on its website. "Neither DVSC nor the player wants to react to this news. Everything on this matter has been dealt with in 2010," it said. Poleksic, having served his ban, is once again the club's keeper and is in contention for a place in the Montenegro squad for the World Cup qualifying match against England next month.

Last night Poleksic denied the game at Anfield, which Liverpool won 1-0, was fixed. "Anyone who watched the match would know what people are saying is bull," he told the Daily Mail. "It was the biggest match of my career and Liverpool have always been my favourite club. I can't believe what people have said about me. But I don't care because I know I am clean."

"I was just delighted to be playing at Anfield. It was a great night for me and my club and we played well," he added.

The Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation is approaching the end of a long-running inquiry. While the Liverpool v Debrecen fixture has not been part of it, the inquiry has uncovered a group of local "organisers" working on behalf of a Far Eastern criminal syndicate who have sought to arrange fixes inside and outside the country via approaches to players and match officials.

The NBI says it has identified 50 suspects with links to 33 matches in three countries, but not England. The inquiry is focused on a Serie A game, one international fixture, a Finnish league match and 11 suspicious Hungarian top-flight games. The NBI has received information from sources in Croatia, Italy, Germany and Macedonia, as well as the Isle of Man and Alderney.

Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean who served time in Finland for fixing, is under custodial protection in Budapest and is providing information to the inquiry. Perumal is a former associate of Dan Tan, another Singaporean thought to head this particular syndicate. The Hungarian and Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants through Interpol but their counterparts in Singapore have yet to accede to the request. Dan is a pivotal figure with a long and deep involvement in fixing that dates back to the early 1990s.

Unusual suspects: Scandal's key figures

Vukasin Poleksic

Debrecen's goalkeeper who has been accused of being bribed to help fix the Hungarian club's Champions League game against Liverpool in 2009. His club denied the claims in a Danish newspaper. Poleksic, a Montenegro international who could be in the squad to face England next month, served a two-year ban from 2010 for failing to report an approach from alleged fixers. The club said a Uefa investigation found Poleksic had rejected the advances. A German police investigation said Debrecen's game against Fiorentina in the same Champions League group was subject to an attempted fix.

Dan Tan

Wanted by authorities in Hungary and Italy over allegations of match-fixing. The 48-year-old Singaporean is alleged to lead one of the major fixing syndicates with links to Chinese criminal gangs. There are claims that the former illegal bookie has been fixing matches since the early 1990s – German authorities believe he was involved in an attempt to fix a Premier League match in 1999. Fell out with fellow fixer Wilson Raj Perumal and it is reported Tan wanted the Finnish authorities to be told of Perumal's presence in the country on a false passport.

Wilson Raj Perumal

Having served time in Finland following his conviction for match-fixing in the country's domestic league, Perumal is now in protective custody in Hungary. Another Singaporean, he has long been a notorious fixer – he was behind the fake Togo team that played a friendly in Bahrain. Perumal, who was based in London for a time, fell out with Tan. Said in correspondence with a reporter during his time in prison: "I hold the key to the Pandora's box. And I will not hesitate to unlock it."

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