Ugandan among three suspects detained in Kenya over match fixing
What you need to know:
- The trio was arrested on Friday at about 10pm in Roysambu after being set up by former footballer Festo Omukoto, and seven Nairobi City Stars players whom they had approached, to help fix their Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) match against Sofapaka on Saturday at Ruaraka Grounds in Nairobi
- Only mattresses were found in the room where they were busted by the law enforcers after being tipped by City Stars Chief Executive Officer Patrick Korir
- In the City Stars v Sofapaka match, the directive by the suspects was that the Simba wa Nairobi concede a goal in the opening 10 minutes and go for the breather trailing 1-0
Police in Kasarani, Nairobi are holding three match fixing suspects.
They are Russian Akhiad Kubiev, Ugandan Bernard Navendi and Kenyan Martin Munga Mutua.
The trio was arrested on Friday at about 10pm in Roysambu after being set up by former footballer Festo Omukoto, and seven Nairobi City Stars players whom they had approached, to help fix their Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) match against Sofapaka on Saturday at Ruaraka Grounds in Nairobi.
The players were to pocket a sum of Sh1.8 million ($14,000) if the deal went through. As part of the ploy, they were to first receive Sh30, 000 each through Mpesa as transport to the match venue.
The suspects, who allegedly bragged to the police that they are “well connected”, before attempting to bribe them with Sh1 million, admitted to have infiltrated several local clubs.
City Stars lay trap
Only mattresses were found in the room where they were busted by the law enforcers after being tipped by City Stars Chief Executive Officer Patrick Korir.
The players were released at midnight after recording their statement, alongside Korir and the club’s coordinator Samson Otieno.
Omukoto, who in 2020 was among the four local players banned by Fifa from taking part in any football related activity for a period of four years after they were found guilty of match fixing, said the suspects, have for the last one month been asking him to connect them with City Stars players, who they can recruit into the vice.
Festus Okiring and Moses Chikati are the other players who were banned for four years while Ugandan George Mandela was banned for life.
Omukoto who has maintained his innocence said that with the ban having ruined his bright football career, he did not want the same predicament to befall other footballers. He says he informed Korir of the matter, and together with Otieno and the seven players they decided to lay a trap for them.
“Match fixing ruined my career and continues to destroy our football. I did not want the players to go through what I underwent,” said Omukoto.
In the City Stars v Sofapaka match, the directive by the suspects was that the Simba wa Nairobi concede a goal in the opening 10 minutes and go for the breather trailing 1-0.
Between the 70th and 78th minute, the suspects were to make another live bet that City Stars was going to concede two more goals in the last 10 minutes of the clash. In case City Stars scored a goal, Sofapaka were required to add another.
“They say that they are working with several local clubs and only pay after the deal is through since some clubs are not cooperative,” Otieno, adding that the suspects told them that matches played on weekdays earn them more revenue than weekend games.
Criminalise match fixing
He added that the suspects promised to increase the amount of money they pay the players in subsequent matches should they continue to cooperate.
Korir thanked Omukoto and the City Stars players for standing for integrity. He reiterated that it was time a law criminalising match fixing was passed in Parliament.
“I have spoken about it before but people take it (match fixing being rampant in FKF-PL) for granted. I am glad we can now put faces to the noise we have been making,” said Korir.
The incident happens barely a month after he revealed how unknown persons made unsuccessful attempts to convince the club to agree to fix its matches for a handsome amount of money in reward.
Speaking during NTV’s Monday night sports show – SportOn! On February 21, Korir revealed that some time in 2021 one of his players at City Stars was being offered $10,000 (Sh1,261,300 as per the current exchange rate) to help fix their FKF-PL match against Nzoia Sugar that was held at Narok Stadium.
The person requested the player, whom Korir did not mention, to convince at least three team mates to agree to be part of the deal, and that they were to ensure that the Simba wa Nairobi lose to Nzoia. The request, however, did not go through as the player reported the matter to him.
The CEO said he advised the player to continue engaging the person, so that they gather more details and evidence about him, with the hope of bringing him to book.
But through FKF, Fifa advised City Stars to tell the player to stop engaging the match fixer on grounds that he might eventually be convinced to cooperate with him.
The other incident happened just minutes before they faced Kenya Police in another FKF-PL match at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani Annex.
The CEO disclosed that someone who identified himself as a president of a betting company in Turkey contacted him via WhatsApp, imploring on him to share with him beforehand the results of the contest, so that they could have the match on their betting platform.
Korir said the person informed him that he got his mobile number from one of his players. He stopped engaging him immediately he learnt that he was attempting to lure him to manipulate the match.
FKF is currently investigating 17 individuals who include players and coaches over match fixing allegations. The federation has suspended them from taking part in any football activity in the country.