Jailed football ref: I'm no match fixer

Jailed football ref: I'm no match fixer

SINGAPORE - The football referee jailed for accepting sexual favours for match- fixing told a court on Tuesday that he never fixed a game in his life.

Ali Sabbagh, 34, said he had worked hard to become a top referee and would not jeopardise his career for "one-time sex".

He was testifying as a prosecution witness at the trial of Eric Ding Si Yang, the 31-year-old Singaporean accused of bribing Sabbagh and his two fellow Lebanese officials to fix a match by arranging for them to receive free sex from prostitutes.

Sabbagh told a district court that there had been no discussion to fix the game he and his two assistant referees were to officiate the day they were arrested.

He said that Ding was "merely taking care" of him by offering him the woman, adding: "In my mind, it was not illegal as I had done nothing wrong."

In his cross-examination by defence counsel Hamidul Haq, he also said that he had pleaded guilty because he had made a mistake of accepting the prostitute from "someone like Ding".

"I expected him to ask me to fix some future match in return but I would not do it," he said.

Sabbagh had also received US$2,000 (S$2,530) from Ding in last September after another referee and two linesmen had fixed a match in Iraq.


Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, Facebook, AFP)

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