Sex-for-match-fixing-trial: Ref given clips of penalties

File Photo: Alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang in court for the first day of his sex-for-match fixing trial.

SINGAPORE - He had received an e-mail with more than 20 links to YouTube videos of penalties that were awarded during football matches.

Accompanying the e-mail were instructions to watch the videos "and try to understand how to do a good job", and that it was "very important" to delete the e-mail after watching the videos.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Asoka Markandu what he understood of the word "job", convicted referee Ali Sabbagh said: "It's about match-fixing."

The 34-year-old Lebanese testified in court as a prosecution witness against alleged match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang at the start of his sex-for-match-fixing trial on Monday.

Ding, 31, faces three charges of corruptly giving gratification to three Lebanese football officials as an inducement to fix matches they would be officiating.

This follows the conviction of the three officials, including Sabbagh, who accepted the sexual gratification allegedly arranged by Ding.

Sabbagh told the court that a man he knew had sent him the e-mails after they first met in the Lebanese capital of Beirut last year. He identified Ding as the man, although he knew Ding as James Zen.

 

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

'Giving the first penalty'

Another e-mail from the alleged matchfixer read: "You and I all know that football is about goals and (in) almost every game, there are 'natural goals'. It is about giving the first penalty to open up the game and make it attacking for both sides."

Sabbagh told the court about his refusal to help Ding rig the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) football matches he was officiating, starting with a quarter-final match in Kuwait last September.

He rejected Ding's appeal to fix the match as he thought this was an opportunity for him to shine as a referee.

"It's my first important match. If I did well in this match, I think... I will take (up) a very good appointment later," he said.

Sabbagh said Ding tried his luck again in March this year, this time showing interest in the AFC Cup match in Iraq between Iraq's Duhok and Yemen's Al Shab Ibb.

He added he was "not interested" as it was his "first game in 2013 with AFC" and he wanted to "make a good beginning".

In the same month, they spoke over the phone again, as Ding wanted information about the upcoming matches that Sabbagh was refereeing.

When the Singaporean businessman found out that Sabbagh was officiating an AFC match between Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal in Singapore on April 3, he offered to arrange for sexual services for the referee and his two assistants after Sabbagh asked Ding to help them "find some girls".

Sabbagh added that he was under the impression that he did not have to pay. The trial continues on Tuesday.

About the case

Three Lebanese football officials, referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and assistant referees Ali Eid, 33, and Abdullah Taleb, 37, pleaded guilty to accepting sexual gratification.

This was allegedly arranged by Eric Ding Si Yang, 31.

Eid and Taleb were sentenced to three months' jail on June 10. As their sentences were backdated to April 4, they were released on the same evening of their sentencing, for good behaviour.

Sabbagh was given a heavier sentence of six months' jail on June 11.

Ding is on trial for three counts of corruptly giving gratification to the three officials in the form of sexual services to induce them to fix future matches.

If convicted, he can be fined up to $100,000 or jailed up to five years, or both, on each of the three charges.


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