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Nigeria World Cup warm-up faces fixing probe

Thursday, May 29, 2014

LONDON - Nigeria's World Cup warm-up friendly against Scotland in London today is reported to be the subject of a match-fixing investigation by police.

Britain's Daily Telegraph is reporting the National Crime Agency (NCA), which investigates serious and organised crime, has asked world governing body FIFA to issue an alert over attempts to fix the game at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

Nigeria are finalising their preparations ahead of the Brazil World Cup from June 12.

"We are liaising with the relevant authorities and will prepare for the match as normal," a Scottish FA spokesman said yesterday.

A spokesman for the NCA refused to comment, saying: "It (NCA) does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of specific operations or provide ongoing commentary on operational activity."

The fixture is set to go ahead, with Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi telling Sky Sports News: "We're not part of this. We don't know anything about this. We're here to play."

Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie, based in England with Premier League side Stoke, added: "This is the first time I'm hearing it. I'm with the players every minute, every day — we don't hear of this." The NCA is said to have told FIFA it has general information from the Asian betting markets suggesting a fixing plan is under way for the Nigeria friendly and they hope to stop the illegal activities by issuing the alert.

A spokesman for British bookmakers Ladbrokes said: "We are taking bets on the match, and will continue to monitor the situation."

A spokesman for Coral, another British-based bookmaker, added: "In the context of football betting, turnover on international friendlies is minimal. We are not aware of any unusual betting patterns on this match, and that has been reflected across the industry.

"However, we are not complacent about it. We do know that where there is integrity concern over football matches, betting tends to take place far from British shores."

Match-fixing is returning to the spotlight ahead of the World Cup, with pre-tournament warm-up matches said to be prime targets for match fixers acting on behalf of illegal betting syndicates in Asia.

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