Former Super Eagles player Sam Sodje has been arrested in connection with a second investigation into football match-fixing following allegations that a player rigged a Championship game in return for cash.
Just recently another Nigerian player plying his trade in Whitehawk FC in Brighton, Hakeem Adelakun was arrested for similar offence.
Sam, the younger brother of bandana wearing ex-international Efe Sodje (right bottom) who played for the Super Eagles in Korea- Japan 2002 was filmed bragging that he can arrange for professional footballers to get yellow cards or even sent off in return for cash.
The Sun on Sunday handed over information on Sodje, gathered over a period of four months by an undercover reporter posing as a middleman for a betting syndicate based in the Far East.
In the video, 34-year-old Nigerian defender Sodje brags that he can arrange for a player to get themselves booked for a £30,000 pay-out, and that he could guarantee certain events in play in return for money.
Fraudsters can capitalise on this through in-game betting, where they put large bets on incidents like red and yellow cards, penalties and even corner kicks.
In the video recorded by an undercover reporter from the Sun on Sunday , Sodje claimed he fixed it for an ex-Premier League player, who now plays in the Championship, to get a yellow card and can even organise similar such events in Premier League games – for a much greater price because of the huge fines for players at that level.
Sodje, who played for Portsmouth and also in the top flight at Reading, even said he was preparing to fix matches at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
An NCA spokeswoman said: ‘An active NCA investigation is now underway and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission.
‘Six people are in custody and are being questioned by NCA officers. We cannot comment further at this stage.’
In the Sun on Sunday footage, Sodje said it was child’s play for a player to get a yellow card, as they are so common no one suspects anything is amiss and the player can continue playing afterwards.
He said: ‘This guy came to meet me at my house and it was sorted. That’s how easy it is – it’s nothing.’
Sodje and his brother Stephen claimed they could even get players sent off – an event which can cripple a team’s chances in a game – for between £50,000 and £70,000.
He said he could set up a bet an entire week before a game, while his brother warned the reporter not to pay one player rumoured to be involved in fixing matches because the sportsman was already under scrutiny.
Sodje spoke of a meeting a Premiership player in a Manchester hotel room, as well as at the home of another to discuss a potential fix.
The footage also shows him admitting punching an opponent in the groin to get sent off for a £70,000 pay-out.
While playing for Portsmouth, Sodje punched Oldham Athletic’s Jose Baxter twice in the game, which took place in February.
Sodje also boasted that having pocketed £70,000 from the gambling ring, even after his £10,000 fine he was still £60,000 better off.
He said: ‘Do you know how much I got fined? I got fined ten grand and I missed six games.’
He said he had to launch the bizarre attack, which his then-manager at Portsmouth, Guy Whittingham, described as ‘inexcusable’, as the referee had not been booking him for tackling.
Spotting his chance after a tackle by Baxter, Sodje ran up to his opponent and punched him in the crotch – to the shock of spectators.
The reporters also claim to have met with Cristian Montano, who was alledgedly supposed to get booked in a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the first half – but failed.
The 21-year-old Colombian reportedly claims he was ‘hacking’ opposition players and even swore at the ref but did not get carded, offering to fix another game to make amends.
Sodje had called former Notts County teammate Montano to a hotel to explain himself.
The fixer showed the reporter text messages from Montano explaining that he had dived for penalties and pulled other players’ shirts, only to receive just one booking – for a clean tackle.
Montano’s current club Oldham Athletic said in a statement: ‘Oldham Athletic Football Club has been made aware of the incident and allegation surrounding one of its players, Cristian Montano. The club will commence an immediate internal investigation to establish all the relevant facts of the case.
‘The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot comment on specific facts at this stage. The club will not be issuing any further statements at this time.’
In the video, Sodje also claimed that another of his brother’s Akpo, 33, who plays for Tranmere Rovers in League One, would get booked in each of his next six games in exchange for cash.
He said that the brothers were trying to prepare for a life after football.
Portsmouth FC spokesman Colin Farmery said: ‘If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.
‘The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would cooperate fully with any inquiry.’
It is thought that illegal betting syndicates are worth £320billion worldwide, with the practice on the rise because of the growing popularity of gambling during games, and the ease of in-play betting.
A large proportion of the money is generated in Asia, where gambling is largely unregulated, as opposed to Europe.
Speaking about the latest reports, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: ‘We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness.
‘Given that there is an ongoing police investigation into this matter, we cannot comment further at this time. Although, we would encourage anyone with any evidence to report it to the police.
‘We will be giving our full assistance to the police during their investigation.’
A spokesman from the Football Association said: ‘The FA is aware of the National Crime Agency investigation and is working closely with the NCA and other authorities. We will make no further comment at this time.’
A Gambling Commission spokesman said: ‘The Gambling Commission has responded quickly in supporting this ongoing National Crime Agency investigation and continues to liaise with both the NCA and the Football Association.’
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said in a statement: ‘These allegations, if proven, unfortunately demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the game in educating players of these risks.
‘We take the issue of integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this evil from our game.
‘In terms of these specific reports, due to the ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency, we are unable to comment further at this time.’