LONDON - Six people have been arrested following fresh allegations of match-fixing in English football, authorities announced Sunday, with media reports suggesting that even next year's World Cup could be a target.
Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had acted on information passed on by the Sun on Sunday tabloid.
The paper said an undercover reporter had met former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje, who allegedly boasted he'd arranged for a player in English football's second-tier Championship to get themselves a yellow card in return for £30,000 (S$61,285).
It also alleged the 34-year-old Sodje had said he could rig Premier League matches and that the former Nigeria international, who played in the Premier League for Reading, was preparing to rig fixtures at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.
Meanwhile the Sun on Sunday said Oldham's Cristian Moldano apologised to Sodje after failing to get a first-half yellow card as part of an alleged betting scam during a match against Wolves on October 22 this year.
Gamblers can make huge sums by betting on incidents such as yellow or red cards, penalties, late goals and corner kicks.
Colin Farmery, a spokesman for fourth-tier English south coast club Portsmouth, said: "If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.
"The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would co-operate fully with any inquiry."
League One Oldham said they had launched an internal investigation of their own.
"Oldham Athletic Football Club has been made aware of the incident and allegation surrounding one of its players, Cristian Montano," a statement issued by the third-tier north-west club said.
"The club will commence an immediate internal investigation. The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot comment on specific facts at this stage."
The NCA, which deals with serious and organised crime in Britain, initially said Sunday that three people had been arrested in connection with its latest investigation before updating the figure to six.
"The NCA can confirm that the Sun on Sunday has passed material from its own investigation to the National Crime Agency," it said in a statement.