Wilson Maj Perumal
By PM News, Lagos
Wilson Raj Perumal, a self-confessed match-fixer who was part of a syndicate that has been placed at the heart of a sophisticated network responsible for fixing hundreds of matches around the world, claimed in a new book that he assisted Nigeria reach the World Cup through his activities.
In his book, he detailed a meeting with a football official in which he promised to help Nigeria qualify for the World Cup in return for free rein in organising three warm-up matches and a cut of the money Fifa provides for hosting a training camp during the tournament.
First, he claimed to influence three players on his payroll to help Nigeria to victory in one of their qualifiers. Then he claimed to have promised the Mozambique FA a $100,000 bonus if they were able to hold Tunisia to a draw, to stop Tunisia from leapfrogging Nigeria and seizing automatic qualification. Mozambique secured an unlikely 1-0 victory.
“My plan had worked and I was the unsung hero of Nigeria’s qualification to the final rounds of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa,” writes Perumal. “Ferrying Nigeria and Honduras to the World Cup was a personal achievement. ‘Fuck,’ I considered. ‘I got two teams to qualify for the World Cup but I cannot tell anyone.’”
He also claimed to have attempted unsuccessfully to bribe referees at the World Cup itself. Perumal, who served a year of his sentence in Finland after promising to co-operate with the authorities, claimed to have had a hand in or profited from fixed matches all over the globe, from Latin America to Serie A.
Perumal admitted to being part of a syndicate that fixed a string of international friendlies by bribing corrupt officials and compromised players, but this is the first time that he has claimed to have influenced World Cup qualifiers.
Perumal was arrested in Helsinki in 2011 and sentenced to two years in prison. He agreed to co-operate with the authorities and implicated his fellow Singaporean Dan Tan, alleged to be at the heart of the fixing and gambling ring that placed bets on illicit Chinese markets.
Last year Europol alleged that more than 380 professional matches in Europe and more than 300 matches played in Africa, Asia and central and South America were under suspicion as the scale of the activities of match-fixing gangs from eastern Europe and Asia became clear.
Perumal’s book, written in conjunction with the investigative journalists Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano, details the huge sums of money he won and lost – up to €3m in a single night – and the huge reach of the match-fixing syndicate.
Perumal also alleged that during a trip to England in 1995 he tried unsuccessfully to bribe two Premier League goalkeepers. Perumal was rearrested last week in Finland on an international arrest warrant. The arrest is believed to relate to an earlier conviction in Singapore, rather than to match-fixing.
Kelong Kings, by Wilson Raj Perumal with Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano, is available to buy as an e-book. A self-published paperback will be on sale shortly.