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Arambagh match-fixing scandal rocks domestic football

Arambagh match-fixing scandal rocks domestic football

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The match-fixing scandal of Bangladesh’s football club Arambagh Krira Sangha rocked the country’s domestic football, especially for the Bangladesh Premier League football. The incident also indicates the high risk of match-fixing cancer in domestic football.

 Charges of match-fixing, live betting and match manipulation in the ongoing BPL football against Arambagh have been proved and the club has been banned from participating in the BPL for two seasons. The decision has been made by the disciplinary committee of the Bangladesh Football Federation on Sunday. The committee has also banned 14 footballers, local and foreign recruits, as well as club officials for various terms for being involved with online betting.

Though these incidents are not rare in the lower tier competitions here, most of these cases have always been unnoticed by the concerned authority. But Arambagh’s incident got a focus as the allegation against the club was directly brought by Asian Football Confederation last February. 

After a six-month investigation, BFF Fixed Match Detection Committee on August 29 made the verdict finding the historical club in Dhaka guilty in several spot-fixing/match manipulation/live betting/online betting cases.  The committee fined Tk 5 lakh to Arambagh which has to pay them within the next one month (August 29 - September 29). Arambagh have been relegated to the first division league for the next 2 years. They will not get any promotion by this period, but can face relegation. 

The committee imposed lifetime bans on the club’s president and proprietor of main sponsors M-Sports Md Minhazul Islam, team manager Md Gouhor Jahangir Russo, fitness trainer Maidul Islam Sheikh (Indian citizen; passport no T7667683), assistant team manager Md Arif Hossain.

Besides, the committee imposed 10-year bans on physio Sanjoy Bose (Indian citizen; passport no T7645372), game analyst cum players’ agent Azizul Sheikh (Indian citizen; passport no T5206215).

The committee also punished several players with different terms of bans. Goalkeeper Apple Mahmud has been banned for 5 years while another goalkeeper Abul Kashem Milon and seven defenders Al Amin, Rockey, Zahid Hossain, Kazi Rahad Miah, Mustafizur Rahman Saikat, Shamim Reza and Smith Bradie Christian (Australian citizen, passport no PB2838698) have been banned or 3 years each.

Three forwards Chizoba Christopher Iyikwobe (Nigerian citizen, passport no A10733474), Mehedi Hasan Fahad, Miraz Mollah and two midfielders Omar Faruq, Rakibul Islam have been banned for 2 years each. 

Former national football star Sheikh Mohammed Aslam believes that vulnerable clubs become the favourite targets of fixers due to their worse financial conditions.

“Of Course Arambagh match-fixing scandal is a threat to our domestic football. But we have to find why the clubs like Arambgah got involved with this heinous crime. I think the main reason is their financial conditions,” Aslam told The Daily Sun on Sunday.

“The domestic leagues run for a long time, which increases the expenditures. Most of our clubs are unable to bear these expenditures as they have been still facing hard situations after the pandemic and casino scandals. We can shorten the time frame of the leagues, that can be helpful for the clubs,” he said.

Another former national player Zahid Hasan Ameli also believes the punishments will help to prevent the crime as well as to save the integrity of football.

“These incidents are not common in the top-tier leagues. We never support such harmful activities. I think fines, bans and relegations are correct and exemplary punishments. These will help to prevent this crime as well as to save the integrity of football,” Ameli said.

 If these incidents won’t be prevented right now the country’s domestic football will suffer a serious image crisis in the future. The federation and law enforcement agencies have to play the main roles to prevent spot-fixing incidents. But are they really able to play any role to stop these? 

Accepting their limitations, BFF General Secretary Abu Nayeem Sohag replied to the questions. “We have some limitations, but we are closely working with the law enforcement agencies, FIFA and AFC to overcome these issues. These incidents are new here, but we know we have to fight long. We have to be prepared by this time. We need an efficient wing including experts from different sectors,” Abu Nayeem told The Daily Sun.