New Delhi: Just a day after I-League club Minerva Punjab’s owner Ranjit Bajaj alleged that bookies approached two of his players to fix matches, the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) integrity officer Javed Siraj on Thursday stressed on the body’s zero tolerance policy towards any match fixing, in-relation to the sport.
“We need to be ultra careful now /the cats out of the bag / it has arrived in our country /the curse of horrible people trying to ruin our beautiful game with the immediate lure of easy big money / really hope NO MATCH OFFICIALS or PLAYERS fall in this trap,” Bajaj had tweeted out.
Siraj who has been the head of the AIFF’s anti-corruption unit since 2014 felt the need to “jointly combat any threats which can bring disrepute to the sport.”
“We have been conducting regular educative and awareness workshops with the various Clubs and even various age-group National Teams on a regular basis. This time too prior to the kick-off of the Hero I-League we met majority of the Clubs making them aware as what needs to be done in case of any crisis,” he said also adding, “We always pay emphasis on the Three R-s – Recognise, Reject and Report. Our aim is to protect the players and the officials and protect from the malice of manipulation.”
This was after Bajaj had informed that two of his players, one Indian and the other a foreign recruit were approached by the bookies and while the Indian player was called up on phone offering him an amount of Rs 30 lakh to fix a match, the overseas professional was approached via Facebook and was also offered a similar amount.
The integrity officer while condeming such actions by the bookies to tempt the players and corrupt the game also applauded the two footballers for bringing the matter out.
“I need to applaud the two Footballers who Recognised, Rejected and Reported the incident. We await an official complaint from the Club and will leave no stone unturned to protect the integrity of Football,” he said.
Bajaj had also tweeted that he had informed the AIFF integrity officer and also the AFC through their integrity app and talking about the application Siraj informed, “Very recently, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has launched an app on integrity wherein any team member can directly pass on information regarding approach.”
Earlier reports of bookies approaching Mumbai FC players in 2013 had also emerged out but nothing was recorded to the AIFF then.