How soccer games are rigged.

How soccer games are rigged.

In a Kenya Football Federation trap, Nairobi police detained alleged football match-fixers on March 10.

Citizen Television shot the episode undercover. Three suspects—Ugandan Bernard Navendi, Kenyan Martin Munga Mutua, and Russian Akhiad Kubiev—were caught fixing a Kenyan League match between Sofapaka FC and Nairobi City Stars.

The viral video reveals match-fixers offering massive sums of money to players, coaches, and officials in a well-coordinated operation. Kubiev offered 10 City players $14,000 (Shs 52 million) if they scored two goals in the first minutes of the game.

The Russian added $11,000 for surrendering two goals in the final 15 minutes. Match-fixers deploy agents to the stadium to communicate with bench officials and players. Fixers send signals.

“You will get two signals, ‘confirmation’ and ‘finish,’ and then the last 15 minutes stick to the signal.” Kubiev barks orders.

Signals… Avoid scoring or conceding… Score after the second signal and concede two goals. Kubiev wanted a 2-2 draw. Two goals early and two late.

He cautioned that players who make mistakes won’t be compensated. Their deception reveals how money can ruin sports and fair competition in the beautiful game.

This is one of several events in Kenya, Uganda, and elsewhere in Africa.

The Observer can confirm that the incidents in Roysambu, Nairobi, are similar to match manipulation that threatens the Ugandan Premier League and Fufa Big League. It’s no secret that Ugandan matches have been rigged, but it’s been hard to catch the culprits, who have thrived in a leaky system.

Footballers’ low welfare has rendered them vulnerable. A player can be compromised after six months without income since he has the same life demands as everyone else.

A footballer told this reporter that he could not refuse financial advances from a match fixer since he had school fees, rent, food, and electricity costs. Five years ago, a veteran sports journalist recounted receiving a call from Germany to rig KCCA, SC Villa, Express, and Vipers matches.

He hung up. He guaranteed a US$50,000 cut. Last season, a Ukrainian call outraged the same journalist. Why was the controversial Onduparaka-KCCA match not ending?

He couldn’t understand why a Ukrainian would care about a Ugandan-Uganda match in Arua. The Citizen TV exposé may help us break the Ugandan crime ring. Navendi, one of the three arrested, is Ugandan, therefore it is improbable that the group does not have agents with a fully operating network in Uganda.

Uganda, like Kenya, has no match-fixing laws, but the new sports bill may change that. It details the punishments for characters who use money to ruin sports and build fixer rings.

This writer attended an International Sports Press Association symposium in Seoul, South Korea, on match-fixing and money laundering.


Ironically, Fufa president Moses Magogo held a press conference at the federation’s offices in Mengo last Monday to launch a Fifa-backed drive to eradicate fixed results in Fufa-sanctioned football at all levels.

“We are here to say that if you have information on an individual or individuals who are going to, or are already doing so, please contact this line, 0787063409, for information that will assist us maintain the game clean from rogue elements.

We will protect the identify of anyone who shares this information because we want to preserve football. As the local football governing body, we will do everything we can to provide a clean and healthy competition environment devoid of match-fixers. The world governing body has warned against match-fixing.

“As we advance toward a match-fixing law, some of the convicted could be banned for life. Players, coaches, referees, club officials, and even journalists could be judged guilty of damaging the game by concealing information or match-fixing.

Magogo claimed that Fufa was asking their Kenyan counterparts about Navendi and his ilk’s complex techniques for financial gain at the price of the game’s purity.

“We are aware of the arrests over the border, and we are going to extract as much information from them because it is most likely that those suspects are not working in isolation there; it is very plausible and likely that they have elements here with whom they are collaborating.”

The Observer’s sources say match-fixing occurs at multiple levels. Fixers can pay match officials large sums to guarantee a certain score or number of goals in one half or 90 minutes. Spot-fixing, which includes red cards and bookings, has replaced score-fixing.

Fixers can also contact a group of people and give them part money to leak goals or collaborate to play poorly to gain results. Ugandan coaches Sam Ssimbwa and Paul Nkata were involved in match-fixing in Uganda and Kenya, respectively.

After discovering that Nyamityobora players were match-fixing for personal gain, Ali Ssekatawa sold the club.

URA and Police FC have recently disciplined and fired players for match-fixing. Police FC fired captain Godfrey Kateregga and vice-captain Saddat Kyambadde in 2016. Last year, the Fufa Ethics and Disciplinary Committee banned referee John Bosco Kalibbala from all football-related activity for influencing league matches between Tooro and the UPDF and Gaddafi and Onduparaka.

Magogo emphasized the federation’s zero tolerance for match tampering and warned that the high punishments will deter other sport violators. He said Fufa will launch a sensitization campaign to remind players and teams in all divisions and competitions of their football duties.

Most football fans will welcome Fufa’s tough stance, but cynics ask why the organization didn’t share its previous match-fixing report.

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