Asian Football - Lebanese referees to go on trial

The three Lebanese referees charged with accepting sexual bribes from three women to fix an Asian Football Confederation Cup match will go on trial from June 10 to 14.

Reuters
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Referee, red card. (Reuters)

FIFA-recognised referee Ali Sabbagh and assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb had allegedly agreed to influence the result of the April 3 match between Singapore's Tampines Rovers and East Bengal of India, and were hastily replaced hours before kick-off by the AFC.

The three, who deny the charges against them, face a maximum fine of S$100,000 and a five-year prison term if found guilty.

They have not been given bail on grounds they could be a flight risk and are currently being held at Singapore's Changi Prison.

Spokesmen for Singapore's Attorney General's office and the law firm representing the three referees could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Singapore is the focus of an international investigation into match-fixing, with the European anti-crime agency, Europol, saying in February that hundreds of football matches had been fixed in a global betting scam run from the Southeast Asian city-state.

Lebanon has also been in the spotlight. Earlier this year, the Lebanese Football Association punished 24 players for their involvement in rigging international and regional matches. That included lifetime bans for internationals Ramez Dayoub and Mahmoud El-Ali.

The dates for the trial of Eric Ding Si Yang, the Singaporean bookie who allegedly provided the prostitutes for the trio, has not been set, the Straits Times said. Ding is, however, out on S$150,000 bail.

The next pre-trial conference for Ding and the three Lebanese match officials will take place on May 9.

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