I-League: Minerva Punjab FC players report fixing approach

Two players from top-placed I-league side Minerva Punjab FC were allegedly approached by bookies, club owner Ranjit Bajaj said.

Minerva Punjab FC players during a I-League game. (Twitter Image)   -  Twitter

Two players from top-placed I-league side Minerva Punjab FC were allegedly approached by bookies, club owner Ranjit Bajaj said. He refused to disclose their names, but confirmed that an Indian and a foreign player were contacted over a phone call and Facebook respectively.

“An Indian player got a phone call day before yesterday night and the foreigner received a message on WhatsApp. The latter initially received a friend request from someone posing to be a fan on Facebook, who eventually got his number and offered him a bribe on WhatsApp,” he told Sportstar.

 

The bookies specific demands remain unclear, however, he conceded that they were willing to offer a whopping sum of Rs. 30 lakh. “Not all footballers come from well to do backgrounds and the kind of money they're offering could be what the footballer would make in his entire life!” he added.

Ranjit has filed a complaint on the AFC's Integrity App and will be filing a police complaint this evening. “The bookies have realised that there is no risk here and that there is no watch on these players. I want to make sure it becomes a big issue and that everybody comes under scrutiny so that people know that we are being watched.”

Commenting on the issue, Sunando Dhar, CEO of the I-League said, “The AIFF integrity officer, Javed Siraj, was contacted by Minerva regarding the issue. Minerva have reported the incident, and we are awaiting a detailed report from them. Once we receive that, Siraj will initiate whatever action needs to be taken,” he said while adding, “Our intention is to try and stop any kind of malpractice.”

In a statement, All India Football Federation’s Integrity Officer Javed Siraj praised the two players for raising an alarm. “I need to applaud the two footballers who recognised, rejected and reported the incident. We await an official complaint from the club and will leave no stone unturned to protect the integrity of football,” he said.

“We always pay emphasis on the three R's – Recognise, Reject and Report. Our aim is to protect the players and the officials from the malice of manipulation,” he added.

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