The head of Interpol yesterday urged Singapore to move against one of its citizens who is considered to be a key suspect in global football match-rigging, after one of his alleged associates was arrested in Italy.
The International police agency's secretary general, Ronald Noble, said in the Malaysian capital that Singapore needed to move on Tan Seet Eng, also known as Dan Tan, who has emerged as a central figure in the suspected fixing of nearly 700 matches around the world.
"The fact that there can be an alleged organised crime head operating in a country known to be safe, secure, like Singapore, distresses Singaporeans and distresses the world," Noble said.
The call, made at the end of a two-day meeting between Interpol and world football officials, came as police arrested Admir Sulic at Milan's Malpensa airport. The Slovenian, who is suspected of belonging to a betting syndicate called the "Zingari" (gypsies) headed by Tan, was held after arriving on a flight from Singapore.
An international arrest warrant was issued for Sulic in December 2011 in connection with the illegal-betting, or "calcioscommesse", scandal in Italian football that implicated dozens of players, coaches and officials. Noble had earlier praised Singapore for tipping off Interpol and the Italian authorities about Sulic's arrival in Milan, although he did not name the suspect directly or give his nationality.
Sulic was wanted for questioning in relation to alleged match-rigging by Tan's organisation, which the Interpol boss said was linked to suspicious results in some 60 countries.
Tan's name has cropped up in multiple match-rigging investigations, but he remains at large in Singapore, where police have said they need hard evidence before arresting anyone. Tan has denied wrongdoing.
Noble's comments came two weeks after Europol revealed that 380 suspicious games had been identified in Europe, among nearly 700 worldwide, including Champions League fixtures and World Cup qualifiers.
The European police agency has said it suspects that a criminal syndicate based in Singapore is responsible.
The latest match-fixing revelations have put a renewed focus on the problem, which has long been documented in Asia and now appears to be an increasing practice throughout the world, fuelled by the advent of lucrative online gambling.
However, Fifa director of security Ralf Mutschke said the outcomes of the conference - such as a pledge to work toward fixing legal loopholes and improving information-sharing between FAs and police - could see the fight against match-fixing "gain momentum".
"Not one player alone can be effective, but we all together can make the difference. The match has started already and we are lagging behind. I call upon you to join us on the pitch, playing, tackling and scoring," he said in his closing speech.