Lebanese referees admit agreeing to fix soccer match for sex in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 4:27am

Three Lebanese referees pleaded guilty yesterday to accepting free sex from a gambling-linked global syndicate in return for agreeing to rig a match.

A Singaporean district court judge jailed assistant referees Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, for three months.

He deferred sentencing until today for referee Ali Sabbagh, whom prosecutors said was the most culpable.

The assistant referees broke down into sobs and repeatedly looked up as if to thank God when Judge Low Wee Ping said they could be freed by today, after remission for good behaviour and due to time already served while awaiting sentencing.

Turning to Sabbagh, 34, the judge said: "I need time to consider your sentence. I don't, for the moment, accept that you should be sentenced to six months."

Deputy public prosecutor Asoka Markandu described Sabbagh as the most culpable as he was the one who was approached by the syndicate and persuaded the two linesmen to accept the sexual bribe.

The three men were arrested and charged on April 4 with corruption for accepting sexual favours in exchange for agreeing to fix an unspecified match.

They had been abruptly pulled out of an Asian Football Confederation Cup match that they were scheduled to officiate on April 3 between the Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal.

The three match officials were denied bail and have been detained at Singapore's Changi prison since April 4.

Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, a Singaporean businessman who allegedly supplied the prostitutes, has also been charged with corruption and granted bail.

Defence lawyer Gary Low cited his clients' previously unblemished records, their guilty pleas and the fact that their acceptance of the sexual bribe did not ultimately result in any football match being rigged.

"The gratification was arranged by Mr Ding Si Yang with a view to fixing a football match in the future," Low said. "Our clients did not reach an agreement with Ding to fix a particular football match.

"In these circumstances, our clients' conduct did not in any way affect or influence the outcome of any football match," the lawyer added.


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