Dutch football officials Monday accused former Sierra Leone international Ibrahim Kargbo of trying to fix a 2009 match between two Eredivisie clubs in the first such case unveiled in the Netherlands.
The Dutch football federation (KNVB) “has confirmed officially for the first time that there was professional football match-fixing,” it said in a statement on its website.
Kargbo, who was then a player with the first division Willem II club from southern Tilburg “made a deal with Wilson Raj Perumal to lose the match with FC Utrecht on August 9, 2009.”
Perumal was sentenced in Finland in 2011 for having led a large match-fixing network.
The KNVB investigation found Perumal and Kargbo agreed in an exchange of emails that the player would ensure Willem II lost the match with more than a one-goal difference, in exchange for 25,000 euros.
Kargbo said in his emails that then captain Michael Aerts and a third unnamed player were also willing to work with him. But as the match was a 1-0 victory no money changed hands, the federation said.
“Dutch football is one of the last in Europe to lose its innocence about this,” said KNVB operational director Gijs de Jong.
“We know that fixing doesn’t stop at the borders,” he said.
“But it’s a bitter pill for Willem II to swallow, as well as for their fans and all those active in the world of football.”
Kargbo has now been banned from playing in the Netherlands again.
But “there was not enough proof that Michael Aerts was involved and the identity of the third player remains unclear,” the federation added.
The investigation was opened in January 2015 after a report in the respected Volkskrant daily said two Willem II matches had been fixed — one against Ajax in October 2009 and one against Feyenoord in December that year.
But the probe did not “show up any information that there was cheating in these matches,” the federation concluded.
Kargbo, the former Sierre Leone captain who last played for Atletico in Portugal’s second tier, had denied the accusations at the time saying he “had never received any money.”
He has also been suspended by Sierra Leone over previous claims of match-fixing against South Africa in qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.
The results of KNVB’s investigation have been shared with Dutch prosecutors as well as UEFA and FIFA, the federation said, calling for better international information-sharing.