Kenyan goalkeeper Willis Ochieng' cited in Finland match fixing scandal

 

A Finnish club said a former goalkeeper allegedly accepted bribes, the 12th player suspected of involvement in match-fixing in the Nordic country’s football league.

IFK Mariehamn manager Peter Mattson said Willis Ochieng’ was suspected of taking $70,500 (Sh6m) in bribes in connection with two away games the club lost in September and October last year.

"We wondered why he let in a couple of easy goals, but he just apologised and promised to try harder," Mattson said. "He was a good goalie."

Ochieng’, from Kenya, joined the Finnish club in August 2007 and left Finland after last season ended in October last year.

Police said the match-fixing was connected to Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean man being held in jail and suspected of bribing players in the Finnish league between 2008 and this year. He was arrested in February after arriving with false identity papers.

Officials said Perumal is linked to nine former players from Rovaniemen Palloseura, suspected of accepting bribes. Charges against him and the nine players will be read when the court case opens next month. If found guilty, Perumal faces a two-year prison sentence.

Perumal is also connected to two Zambian brothers who played for Finnish team AC Oulu and were found guilty of accepting £50,000 in bribes to influence the outcome of a game last year. Donewell and Dominic Yobe received suspended sentences after confessing to playing "below their normal level" during a 5-0 loss against TPS.

Mattson said he was surprised at the scale of the match-fixing in Finland where football is not a popular spectator sport.

"We’ve never seen anything like this before, I’m very, very disappointed," he said, but added that it was good to solve the issue.

"Maybe some good has come from it after all. It will make us all the more vigilant in the future," Mattson said.

Finnish police said they are also investigating "several other foreign fixers" of matches but declined to give details pending results of the probe.

Fifa, which has pledged to track down organized crime leaders responsible for a wave of match-fixing and betting scams in football, believes Perumal organized an infamous match last September when a fake Togo team traveled to Bahrain for a friendly that the unwitting host easily won 3-0.

Perumal also has links to fixing involving Zimbabwe national team matches played in the Far East.

Football Kenya second vice-chairman Erastus Okul said they are not aware of the allegations since Fifa or his club has not contacted them over the same.

"I know the player very well because we invited him to the national team in 2008 and 2009 when he played against Mozambique and Tunisia,"

"He was very good and iam shocked that such allegations can be said against him. We are waiting for Fifa to communicate before we can respond," he said.

Okul also admitted that last year they had received unconfirmed reports about several players in the national team accepted bribes to throw away matches.

"We were not able to prove any of it so we let it go but you never know with some players anything is possible," he said.

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