Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How Kenyan players earn millions from match-fixing

An undercover operation led by local television station Citizen TV’s sports presenter Mike Okinyi in collaboration with Kenya Police recently led to the nabbing of a Russian, Kenyan and Ugandan.

The Russian (Ahmed Kubiev) led the gang, supported by Bernard Navendi and Martin Munga Mutua.

The trio are charged with issuing bribes and match-fixing the FKF Premier League fixture, Nairobi City Stars vs Sofapaka, which was slated on 11th March at Ruraka Grounds.

The three individuals were arrested at an apartment in Zimmerman Nairobi when police stormed and raided them after 10 hours of intense undercover.

Reports revealed they wanted to pay off at least seven Nairobi City Stars players to ensure they lost the match and Sofapaka won.

A whistleblower who set the culprits’ masterminded plan in motion called the Nairobi City Stars CEO to inform him of the demands to be met.

“For this deal to go through, he wanted seven players and he was very specific. He wanted the goalkeeper, three defenders, two midfielders and a striker,” Patrick Korir, the Nairobi City Stars CEO reported.

Korir informed his team director, Samson Otieno, the police and Mike Okinyi from Citizen TV. A trap was laid to catch the culprits. Both parties had been in communication for over 4 hours.

To increase the credibility of the set trap, the team manager was wired along all the identified squad members. They then set out for the meeting with the match fixers to get details.

On arrival, players introduced themselves and the match-fixers confirmed their identities using Facebook profiles. Instructions were then given to the City Stars players on how they’d play.

In the first 10 minutes, City Stars are to concede a goal. The score line should remain 0-1 in favour of Sofapaka up to Halftime. During the second half, match-fixers inform players that between the 70th and 80th minutes are vital.

READ: Shocking arrest of foreign match-fixers trying to manipulate FKF-PL results

If City Stars were to score in this window, they must allow Sofapaka to score in the dying minutes so that they can win the game.

This well-orchestrated plan would see them get paid a sum of Sh. 1.8 million ($14,000). In addition, everyone involved in making the plan fruitful would receive a bonus package of Sh. 30,000 through mobile money to cater for transport to the match venue.

The trio also said they would be present in the game to give signals when it was time to make a move on a plan. Soon after, police swooped in and all hell broke loose in the apartment.

The suspects tried to get away but they were no match for the men in blue. Players and team manager Samson were also taken to Kasarani Police Station to record their statements and later released.

Patrik Korir noted that their stringent action was the first of many in curbing match-fixing in the Kenyan Premier League.

“The three ways we can kill the vice are record, name and shame, and legislate,” he asserted.

The news prompted FKF to release a press statement on Match Fixing.

“We continue to work closely with all involved including local and international security agencies, to not only assist in the prosecution of the said individuals but also in an effort aimed at safeguarding the integrity of Kenyan football,” the report read in part.

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