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Explained: Match-Fixing in Indian Football – What Is the Claim? Who Is Involved?

Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

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Indian football, unfortunately not for the first time in history, has been jolted by accusations of match-fixing. Whilst the football fraternity faced similar challenges in 2022 and 2023, which led to probes by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), new revelations – including the alleged involvement of a convicted international match-fixer – have intensified the turmoil.

The Quint delves into all the major questions about the incidents, alongside claims of both the complainant and the defendant.

Explained: Match-Fixing in Indian Football – What Is the Claim? Who Is Involved?

  1. 1. When & How Did the Allegations Surface?

    Before we talk about the most recent development, let us revisit events from the last couple of years for contextualisation.

    • In November 2022, the CBI initiated a probe into match-fixing allegations in Indian football, after five Indian clubs were accused of securing lucrative financial packages from shell companies. The reports claimed the alleged involvement of Wilson Raj Perumal – a name that will resurface later in this article.

    • In recent months, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) stated that many players had reported illegal approaches from the bookies. The governing body expressed its commitment to launching an investigation, reaffirming a 'zero tolerance policy' towards malpractices like match-fixing.

    Now, to the latest incident.

    In February, Ranjit Bajaj – the owner of the Delhi Football Club in the I-League – posted a video from a Delhi Premier League (DPL) game on his X handle, where a team called Ahbab FC was seen conceding two dubious own goals, which Bajaj alleged to be ‘rampant fixing.’
    Expand
  2. 2. What Happened After the Allegations Were Made?

    In the wake of the allegations, the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) convened an emergency meeting. They decided in favour of an investigation, whilst also suspending Ahbab FC till the announcement of the outcome.

    AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey called the incident ‘very concerning’ and assured to go to the depth of it.

    My assurance to all the football fans, who were outraged by this incident just like me, that AIFF will go to the depth of it. I’ve sought urgent meeting with Jt Commissioner of Police, ACB, Delhi, which will be crucial in our investigation.
    Kalyan Chaubey

    The incident was subsequently discussed with the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) Joint Commissioner, IPS Madhur Verma, who is currently leading the probe.

    Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.
    Expand
  3. 3. What Are the Match-Fixing Allegations in I-League?

    Besides the DPL, I-League – India’s second division football competition – is also under the scanner.

    Through a series of X posts on 3 March, Bajaj alleged that three clubs in the DPL, including Ahbab FC, are under the control of two individuals who also have had tie-ups with I-League teams as investors. He further claimed that those individuals were associated with a convicted Singapore-based match-fixed – Wilson Raj Perumal.

    Speaking to The Quint, he said:

    Four I-League clubs – Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC, TRAU FC and Real Kashmir FC – had on-boarded investors from Singapore. These guys give the club money, and in return, they make them one coach and seven players of their choice. AIFF warned those teams to not have third-party investors, and three clubs agreed to terminate the partnership.
    Ranjit Bajaj
    Expand
  4. 4. Who Is Wilson Raj Perumal?

    A convicted fixer who spent a year in Finnish prison, Wilson Raj Perumal gained notoriety for his involvement in numerous match-fixing incidents. In his memoir, Perumal claimed to have manipulated matches in the FIFA World Cup, alongside the Olympics.

    Bajaj offers his version of how an internationally scandalous figure got involved in Indian football:

    Perumal got into India through West Bengal. He first started fixing matches in the Calcutta Football League – it is pretty blatant and is still happening. From West Bengal, it spread to Goa and now it happens in all of the seven professional leagues in India.
    Ranjit Bajaj
    Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

    'But why Indian football?'

    It happens because of the lack of a deterrent. In cricket, fixers are banned for life and also jailed. Here in Indian football, there are no enquiries at all, let alone a ban or a jail term. Fixers know that there are no deterrents, so they are happy and the situation keeps worsening.
    Ranjit Bajaj

    'How can you be certain that Perumal is involved?'

    On his Facebook page that was later taken down, Perumal posted the result on an I-League game and how many goals will be scored. The result of the match was exactly what he predicted. That is how I know he is involved.
    Ranjit Bajaj
    Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

    The alleged Facebook post where the exact score of an I-League match was 'predicted'. The image has not been independently verified by The Quint.

    (Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

    It is crucial to note that the allegations are centred around regional and second-division leagues, not the top tier of Indian football – the Indian Super League. Per Bajaj, security barriers and the already lucrative player contracts of ISL lead to bookies evading the top division.

    Expand
  5. 5. What Procedure Does a Player Follow After Getting an Illegal Offer?

    According to the rules, any player who has been contacted for a fixing-related proposal is mandated to immediately report to the incident to his club, who are then obligated to report it to the AIFF.

    Bajaj claims he has been consistently adhering to the protocol, but to no avail.

    I have followed that procedure and reported ten incidents in the past eighteen months. I have records of all such reports. But till date, nothing has been done. In addition, I have made five complaints to the AFC & FIFA, they have not done anything either.
    Ranjit Bajaj
    Expand
  6. 6. If It Is a Persisting Evil, Why Has It Not Been Eradicated Yet?

    There can be many answers to this question – none with authentication. Bajaj’s version does not pass the buck to AIFF, but emphasises the need for stricter action from the police.

    There is only so much that the AIFF can do. It is the police who need to take strict action. Unfortunately, I think action is not being taken because this is being considered as an important game. If match-fixing happened in cricket, people would have been in jail by now.
    Ranjit Bajaj

    Notably, unlike the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which has an Anti-Corruption Unit, AIFF has to rely on the law enforcement agents.

    There is no active ACB who are looking into these matters. In cricket, there are officers from the Anti-Corruption Unit who are actively monitoring the players in hotels, grounds and everywhere. There is nothing like that in football.
    Ranjit Bajaj
    Expand
  7. 7. Has Any of the Accused Said Anything Yet?

    Neither of the two individuals who have been named by Bajaj have issued a public statement. The Quint, however, reached out to one of the accused, who denied any wrongdoing.

    We will not issue a public statement now because we have already activated our legal cell. They are working on this matter. But I will categorically deny all match-fixing allegations. I can also confirm that I am not in contact with anyone named Wilson Raj Perumal. In fact, I had not even heard of him before now.
    One of the two individuals accused of match-fixing

    Further, he alleged personal enmity to be at play.

    These are baseless allegations levied because of personal enmity. Our teams are doing well, we became the champions of U17 league in Delhi, so some people are jealous of us and want to defame us.
    One of the two individuals accused of match-fixing

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

When & How Did the Allegations Surface?

Before we talk about the most recent development, let us revisit events from the last couple of years for contextualisation.

  • In November 2022, the CBI initiated a probe into match-fixing allegations in Indian football, after five Indian clubs were accused of securing lucrative financial packages from shell companies. The reports claimed the alleged involvement of Wilson Raj Perumal – a name that will resurface later in this article.

  • In recent months, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) stated that many players had reported illegal approaches from the bookies. The governing body expressed its commitment to launching an investigation, reaffirming a 'zero tolerance policy' towards malpractices like match-fixing.

Now, to the latest incident.

In February, Ranjit Bajaj – the owner of the Delhi Football Club in the I-League – posted a video from a Delhi Premier League (DPL) game on his X handle, where a team called Ahbab FC was seen conceding two dubious own goals, which Bajaj alleged to be ‘rampant fixing.’
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Happened After the Allegations Were Made?

In the wake of the allegations, the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) convened an emergency meeting. They decided in favour of an investigation, whilst also suspending Ahbab FC till the announcement of the outcome.

AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey called the incident ‘very concerning’ and assured to go to the depth of it.

My assurance to all the football fans, who were outraged by this incident just like me, that AIFF will go to the depth of it. I’ve sought urgent meeting with Jt Commissioner of Police, ACB, Delhi, which will be crucial in our investigation.
Kalyan Chaubey

The incident was subsequently discussed with the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) Joint Commissioner, IPS Madhur Verma, who is currently leading the probe.

Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

What Are the Match-Fixing Allegations in I-League?

Besides the DPL, I-League – India’s second division football competition – is also under the scanner.

Through a series of X posts on 3 March, Bajaj alleged that three clubs in the DPL, including Ahbab FC, are under the control of two individuals who also have had tie-ups with I-League teams as investors. He further claimed that those individuals were associated with a convicted Singapore-based match-fixed – Wilson Raj Perumal.

Speaking to The Quint, he said:

Four I-League clubs – Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC, TRAU FC and Real Kashmir FC – had on-boarded investors from Singapore. These guys give the club money, and in return, they make them one coach and seven players of their choice. AIFF warned those teams to not have third-party investors, and three clubs agreed to terminate the partnership.
Ranjit Bajaj
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Who Is Wilson Raj Perumal?

A convicted fixer who spent a year in Finnish prison, Wilson Raj Perumal gained notoriety for his involvement in numerous match-fixing incidents. In his memoir, Perumal claimed to have manipulated matches in the FIFA World Cup, alongside the Olympics.

Bajaj offers his version of how an internationally scandalous figure got involved in Indian football:

Perumal got into India through West Bengal. He first started fixing matches in the Calcutta Football League – it is pretty blatant and is still happening. From West Bengal, it spread to Goa and now it happens in all of the seven professional leagues in India.
Ranjit Bajaj
Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

'But why Indian football?'

It happens because of the lack of a deterrent. In cricket, fixers are banned for life and also jailed. Here in Indian football, there are no enquiries at all, let alone a ban or a jail term. Fixers know that there are no deterrents, so they are happy and the situation keeps worsening.
Ranjit Bajaj

'How can you be certain that Perumal is involved?'

On his Facebook page that was later taken down, Perumal posted the result on an I-League game and how many goals will be scored. The result of the match was exactly what he predicted. That is how I know he is involved.
Ranjit Bajaj
Indian football has been jolted by match-fixing allegations. We delve into details to answer all burning questions.

The alleged Facebook post where the exact score of an I-League match was 'predicted'. The image has not been independently verified by The Quint.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

It is crucial to note that the allegations are centred around regional and second-division leagues, not the top tier of Indian football – the Indian Super League. Per Bajaj, security barriers and the already lucrative player contracts of ISL lead to bookies evading the top division.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Procedure Does a Player Follow After Getting an Illegal Offer?

According to the rules, any player who has been contacted for a fixing-related proposal is mandated to immediately report to the incident to his club, who are then obligated to report it to the AIFF.

Bajaj claims he has been consistently adhering to the protocol, but to no avail.

I have followed that procedure and reported ten incidents in the past eighteen months. I have records of all such reports. But till date, nothing has been done. In addition, I have made five complaints to the AFC & FIFA, they have not done anything either.
Ranjit Bajaj
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

If It Is a Persisting Evil, Why Has It Not Been Eradicated Yet?

There can be many answers to this question – none with authentication. Bajaj’s version does not pass the buck to AIFF, but emphasises the need for stricter action from the police.

There is only so much that the AIFF can do. It is the police who need to take strict action. Unfortunately, I think action is not being taken because this is being considered as an important game. If match-fixing happened in cricket, people would have been in jail by now.
Ranjit Bajaj

Notably, unlike the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which has an Anti-Corruption Unit, AIFF has to rely on the law enforcement agents.

There is no active ACB who are looking into these matters. In cricket, there are officers from the Anti-Corruption Unit who are actively monitoring the players in hotels, grounds and everywhere. There is nothing like that in football.
Ranjit Bajaj
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Has Any of the Accused Said Anything Yet?

Neither of the two individuals who have been named by Bajaj have issued a public statement. The Quint, however, reached out to one of the accused, who denied any wrongdoing.

We will not issue a public statement now because we have already activated our legal cell. They are working on this matter. But I will categorically deny all match-fixing allegations. I can also confirm that I am not in contact with anyone named Wilson Raj Perumal. In fact, I had not even heard of him before now.
One of the two individuals accused of match-fixing

Further, he alleged personal enmity to be at play.

These are baseless allegations levied because of personal enmity. Our teams are doing well, we became the champions of U17 league in Delhi, so some people are jealous of us and want to defame us.
One of the two individuals accused of match-fixing

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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