By Paul Collins
On camera: Defender Sam Sodje has been filmed apparently arranging to fix football matches
Sam Sodje faces arrest after he was filmed bragging that he can arrange for fellow professional footballers to get yellow cards or even sent off in return for cash.
The defender, who played for Portsmouth and also in the Premier League with Reading, says he can guarantee certain events in play in return for money.
In the video, the 34-year-old defender brags that he can get a player to get themselves booked for a £30,000 pay-out.
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 claims 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.
He even boasted he can arrange for African players to influence what happens in World Cup games, claiming some players could be easily tempted to fix because they do not get paid as much to represent their national teams.
He added that 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.’
Now police are investigating after 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.
Sodje and his brother Stephen claim they can 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 even said he could set up a bet an entire week before a game, while he 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 Premier League 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.
He said: ‘Do you know how much I got fined? I got fined £10k and I missed six games.’
He said he had to launch the bizarre attack as the referee had not been booking him for tacking.
The reporters also claim to have met with Cristian Montano, who was allegedly supposed to get booked in a game against Wolves 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 booked, offering to fix another game to make amends.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed it was investigating the claims.
In a statement the agency said: ‘The NCA can confirm that the Sun on Sunday has passed material from its own investigation to the National Crime Agency.
Award winner: And the central defender even reached the Premier League with Reading
‘An active NCA investigation is now under way and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission. We cannot comment further at this stage.’
The news comes as two Conference South (the sixth tier of the English league) footballers were charged in connection with match-fixing allegations and sacked by their club, following a separate investigation by the NCA.
Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22, were charged this week with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law.
The NCA said the Crown Prosecution Service’s organised crime division was satisfied that it was in the public interest to authorise the charges.
Boateng and Adelakun’s club, Whitehawk FC in Brighton, said the pair have now been ‘dismissed with immediate effect’ following an emergency board meeting.
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.’
The NCA later confirmed three people were in custody over the allegations.
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.