Friday, June 26, 2009

MATCH-FIXING: NPL Can’t Prosecute Clubs Without Proof - Obaseki

In the wake of mixed reactions still trailing the scandalous 9-0 score-line between Zamfara United and Kaduna United on the last day of the 2008/2009 season, the Nigeria Premier League board has admitted that it would be difficult to punish both sides over the incident in Gusau, Zamfara State.
In a telephone interview, Obaseki called on those who claim the match between Kaduna United and Zamfara United was fixed to present evidence to corroborate their allegation.
The former chairman of Bendel Insurance in spite of calling for proof to uncover if the allegation against Kaduna United and Zamfara United, he was disappointed that the last day of the last season was trailed by such controversy.
“I am personally unhappy with the way things have turned at the end of the season, especially with the way that the match between Kaduna United and Zamfara United ended. I am concerned that another club, which has been affected by the results has lodged a protest, which has led to the setting up of a committee. If anyone can up with evidence to prove that both clubs were involved in match-fixing the Premier League board will not hesitate to punish the offenders,” he said.
Obaseki also reminded that in 2006, there was a scandal that rocked the Italian league that involved top clubs such as AC Milan and Juventus as well as referees and club managers.
The NPL chief said the Italian scenario had enough evidence to nail the principal actors in the ring of match-fixing in that European country.
“I will be happy to punish any offender perceived to have first-hand knowledge and perpetrated the fixing of any league match. Remember what happened in Italy few years ago. Those caught in the act of match-fixing were punished and the clubs involved were either relegated or had their points deducted. So, if we have such evidence, we will definitely take action,” he said.
But Obaseki, who also doubles as the second vice-president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), lamented that there was no law in the books of the Premier League stating that any team involved in a high-scoring match perceived as being fixed should be relegated.
The NPL chairman said in order to check the excesses of desperate clubs at the end of season to win at all costs.
He continued that the Premier League board would be proffering solutions to such end-of-the-season scandalous results during the congress of the league scheduled to hold next month.

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