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Mon, Oct 11, 2010
The New Paper
He made his international 'debut' with Sierra Leone

EVERYBODY thinks it was the controversial Togo versus Bahrain match this year that gave Wilson Raj Perumal's game away.

The Singaporean, who is on the run from the law, had allegedly brought a fake Togo team to Bahrain to play the national team there on Sept 7.

Others believe that it was his involvement in the Zimbabwe versus Malaysia game last year - where he allegedly taken a club side to Malaysia and passed them off as the national team - that exposed him.

But no wit is coming to light that Wilson Raj, 44,may have started the ball rolling earlier in 2008.

His first foray into big-time match-fixing allegedly involved a Sierra Leone under-20 team, said three sources close to Wilson Raj.

They have stepped forward after The New Paper broke a series of stories on his alleged match-fixing.

Worse still, these sources said that Wilson Raj is broke and heavily in debt.

Why Sierra Leone?

One of the sources explained that Wilson was released from jail in 2006 and he was broke.

"He needed to make his money quickly but quietly," said the source .

"Nobody would care if it had been an unknown team like Sierra Leone coming from an unknown part of the world."

Malaysia beat Sierra Leone 4-0 in Malaysia in the MerdekaTournament in October 2008.

Yet, somebody took notice.

During the 2008 Merdeka Tournament, a source within the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), told The New Paper that it was suspicious of the Singaporean.

"His name was not registered under the company that organised the match (between Sierra Leone and Malaysia), but he acted as though he wasthe boss," said theFAMsource.

"That was the first time we heard of the name Wilson Raj Perumal."

To learn more about Wilson Raj, officers from a government security branch hAd tailed him, said the source.

For a few days, they followed his every move.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't pin him with any incriminating evidence," said the FAM source.

But that did not stop the source from checking with contacts in Singapore.

Extra careful

"We had to be extra careful when we learned that he had a history of match-fixing in Singapore," he said.

Wilson Raj, who is on the run for failing to appear in court for his appeal hearing against his sentence of five years' corrective training for injuring an auxiliary police officer, had been jailed three times for match-fixing in Singapore.

The next year, Wilson Raj organised more matches in Malaysia.

He had brought Zimbabwe to play Malaysia in two friendly matches in July 2009.

Following the matches, The Malay Mail first raised the alarm about the Zimbabwe team, which lost 4-0 and1-0 to Malaysia, saying the team was fake.

The Zimbabwe players were later said to be from a premier league team called Monomotapa United, according to multiple news reports.

Wilson Raj has been implicated along with suspended Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) CEO Henrietta Rushwaya for allegedly fixing the Zimbabwe versus Malaysia matches.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Said Datuk Azzudin Ahmad, FAM general secretary, after the scandal broke: "When we are told that this is their national team, we take their word for it.Wedo not question it because that would be questioning their integrity."

The source within FAM said that since the start of this year, no African team has been invited to play in Malaysia.

"We still welcome all the foreign teams to play in Malaysia, but we have to be very careful with African teams," said the source within FAM.

FAM was not the only one eyeing Wilson Raj.

Zifa and the Togo Football Federation are also interested in talking to him.

An official from the Togolese government, Koffi Armon, told The New Paper recently that it was still interested in Wilson Raj.

He said: "The investigations right now only involve the Togolese officials who were responsible. To our knowledge, nothing has been undertaken concerning the Singaporean agent. But if you have information to dispense (on Wilson Raj),we are interested."

Mr Antoine Folly, former Togo sports minister, who was arrested in the Togo-Bahrain affair, denied knowing Wilson Raj when he spoke to The New Paper on Thursday.

But these developments should be the least of Wilson Raj's problems.

Two sources said that Wilson Raj's creditors are also on the hunt for him as he has yet to pay them the money he has borrowed for alleged match-fixing.

One source said: "He is in a bad state and is very desperate and broke."

The source said his debt runs into the millions.

 

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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