Monday, 6 June 2011

Suspect Referee Performance: Nigeria v Argentina

The following incidents occurred during the friendly match between Nigeria and Argentina on Wednesday 1 June 2011. The match finished 4—1.

There were two penalty decisions and I'll leave it to viewers (and to investigators of corruption) to decide whether something was suspect about Referee Ibrahim Chaibou's performance.

Nigeria 4-1 Argentina Friendly 01.06.11 (YouTube)

How would you rate the Referee's performance?

First Penalty
This actually looks half-credible but consider how easy it was for the Referee to give it. Look at the Referee's angle of view and now decide whether he actually saw the incident clearly.

What's the Referee thinking? $$$

Referee's non-standard positioning for a penalty kick

Second Penalty
The last goal of the match was highly suspect. There was 5 minutes of added time but the Referee continued after this and eventually in the 90+8 minute he awarded a penalty. He indicated the penalty was for handball, but even without replays it was clear no handball had occurred. Players were bemused and the Referee repeatedly indicated handball (more to convince himself than anyone else).

What's the Referee thinking? $$handball$$

Referee's non-standard positioning for a penalty kick (again)


Much has been written about match fixing (among the best come from The Telegraph ... examples here, here and here), particularly from Asia. The reason is because in Asia there is a whole gamut of gambling options open (e.g. goals scored in first half, goals scored in second half, total goals scored) plus there are numerous betting outlets that help avoid alerting bookmakers in real time about significant swings in particular betting patterns.

After watching highlights of this match, I read a recent Telegraph story reporting that FIFA are indeed investigating this Nigeria and Argentina incident for match-fixing (news story here). Some quotes:

With Nigeria leading 4-0 there was a huge swing on some in-play gambling markets which appeared to anticipate a fifth goal.

With 90 minutes played referee Ibrahim Chaibou awarded five minutes of stoppage time but let play carry on until, in the eighth minute of additional play, he signalled a handball against Nigeria, awarding a penalty to Argentina.

Replays indicated the ball had hit one Nigerian player’s shin and diverted to another player, whom it hit in the stomach. The whistle appears to have been blown immediately after the ball hit the first player. Mauro Boselli, of Wigan, converted the penalty.

“With 86 minutes played the odds for over 4.50 [a fifth goal to be scored] were absolutely insane. The market was effectively saying it was odds against that there would be no more goals. It is hard to get an exact figure for how much would have been bet to force that kind of swing but we are certainly talking hundreds of thousands, possibly more than £1,000,000,” said Matthew Benham of SmartOdds, an online betting firm.

The referee involved, Chaibou, of Niger, was in charge of the Sept 7 friendly between Bahrain and a ‘fake’ Togo team, another game under Fifa investigation. That match was organised by Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer who is facing trial in a Lapland court after being charged with bribing players to fix games in the Finnish league. Telegraph Sport attempted to contact Chaibou last night but calls were not returned.

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