Match-fixing trial: 'Watch video on how to give penalties, ref told'

Ding outside the courthouse yesterday. He is accused of bribing three officials to fix a match by arranging sexual favours for them.
Ding outside the courthouse yesterday. He is accused of bribing three officials to fix a match by arranging sexual favours for them.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Singaporean businessman supplied video clips, referee tells court

ALLEGED match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang sent a referee video clips telling him how to falsely award penalties, a court heard yesterday.

The Singaporean businessman was said to have e-mailed the YouTube footage to the official, along with the message: "Please see and try to understand how to do a good job."

Yesterday, Ding's trial kicked off at a district court.

The 31-year-old is accused of bribing three Lebanese officials to fix a match by arranging for them to receive free sexual favours from prostitutes.

One of the trio, referee Ali Sabbagh, testified that he had been sent the video clips on Aug 6 last year. He said they showed how to fix matches by making "wrong decisions" on penalties and free kicks.

Sabbagh, who has been refereeing since 2000, told the court he earned US$1,100 (S$1,390) a month as a sports official in his own country.

By contrast, Ding allegedly offered him up to US$10,000 to fix a single Asian Football Confederation (AFC) match.

The pair met in Beirut in June last year after being introduced by another Lebanese official.

Ding - who gave his name as "James" - claimed to run a business organising international friendly matches.

He then asked Sabbagh, 34, to tell him which games he was to referee.

Later, Ding told the official to make sure a match between a Kuwaiti club and a Jordanian side ended with a total of three goals, the court heard.

But the referee was reluctant to fix the match as it was his first AFC assignment.

Although he agreed to do it, he did nothing to influence the score, which ended 0-0.

Ding then blamed him for "losing a lot of money".

The businessman allegedly went on to arrange free sexual favours for the officials on April 3 - hours before they were due to officiate an AFC Cup match between Singapore's Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal.

Sabbagh said that Ding offered to "take care of the trio".

When told they wanted Asian women, the businessman allegedly laughed and said that it was easily done in Singapore.

The three officials - Sabbagh, and linesmen Abdallah Taleb and Ali Eid - checked into Amara Hotel in Tanjong Pagar.

Soon after midnight, the women came to the lobby.

Sabbagh told the court he asked one of them how much he had to pay and was told it had been taken care of.

The Lebanese trio were arrested before dawn.

Sabbagh has already received a six-month jail sentence. His accomplices were both given three-month prison terms, which they have now served.

Taleb, 37, and Eid, 33, are also expected to testify at the trial, together with the three prostitutes.

Ding, who is out on $300,000 bail, was a football tipster for The New Paper from 2006 to last year.

He is being defended by lawyers from Rajah & Tann.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $100,000 or both.

The trial continues today.

khush@sph.com.sg