World Cup - AFC backs probe into 10-0 result
Fri, 02 Mar 06:25:00 2012
The Asian Football Confederation has backed a FIFA investigation into Bahrain's 10-0 World Cup qualifying win over Indonesia in midweek.
The mauling in Manama raised suspicion because Bahrain needed a huge turnaround to have any chance of reaching the fourth round of regional 2014 qualifiers. Bahrain needed to beat Indonesia, Qatar to lose to Iran and also make up a nine-goal differential on the 2022 World Cup hosts.
FIFA's security department launched a routine probe, supported by the AFC in a statement on Friday.
"(The) AFC supports the routine investigation launched by FIFA," it read, promising to "assist FIFA and cooperate closely with the world football governing body."
General secretary Alex Soosay later issued a second statement expressing his belief that the suspicions of foul play were groundless.
"I have read the media reports about suspicions of match-fixing," he said. "But I am confident that none of our teams are involved in this. Bahrain were the better team both tactically and technically.
"Moreover I have gone through the official reports of the AFC match commissioner and the match referee and they indicate nothing."
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan - Asia vice president on the FIFA Executive Committee - was keen to stress that while match-fixing should not be taken lightly, it was not just an issue for his region.
"It has to be taken very seriously regardless of what region it is played in. It is a world issue, not just simply in the Asian region," he told Reuters in London.
"We need to put as much resources as we can into this aspect of football and support those who are dealing with it in FIFA.
"The important thing is that if there are suspicions you have to investigate it.
"It might just be a coincidence, however there might be something behind it. Regardless, it can happen in any country in the world."
Bahrain's incredible 10-goal rout almost sent them through but Qatar advanced after an 86th-minute goal gave them a 2-2 draw and the point they needed in Tehran to clinch second place in Group E.
Indonesia, already eliminated, fielded a vastly inexperienced side of mostly uncapped under-23 players after they were blocked from selecting their regular squad by the country's federation because they mostly play in the breakaway Indonesian Super League.
The size of defeat marked a new low point for Indonesian football, already torn apart by internal troubles and political wrangling.
It also brought howls of derision from furious Indonesia fans and local media, the Jakarta Globe accusing the team of becoming a "laughing stock."
Indonesia finished bottom of Group E with no points, conceding 26 goals and scoring just three, the worst record of the 20 teams in the third round of Asian qualifying.
"We apologise to the people of Indonesia," Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) secretary general Tri Goestoro said in a statement.
"The PSSI tried to pick the best players and aimed for the best results for the last match. But Bahrain was clearly playing better and defeated us."
PSSI national team coordinator Bob Hippy criticised Lebanese referee Andre El Haddad for awarding Bahrain four penalties and sending off goalkeeper Samsidar in the second minute.
"Before the game, I heard rumours saying Bahrain would win big and it happened," said Hippy. "How could the referee gave so many penalties for Bahrain? He killed us."
However, that view was not the general consensus as most of the anger turned on the PSSI.
Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng demanded the PSSI end the infighting, which has left the country with rebel leagues and almost resulted in a FIFA ban last year.
"That (result) is what we get if the (PSSI) officials keep fighting with each other," he said.
"They should put national football's interests first. They need to end the bickering right away. We've become the victims of the league's dualism."
Bahrain beat Indonesia 10-0