Swedish agents enticed by criminals

Dickson Etuhu (right), a football agent and former Nigeria midfielder who played for Manchester City, Sunderland and Fulham during his Premier League career, is at the centre of an inquiry into match-fixing.
Dickson Etuhu (right), a football agent and former Nigeria midfielder who played for Manchester City, Sunderland and Fulham during his Premier League career, is at the centre of an inquiry into match-fixing.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • The detective in charge of Sweden's match-fixing investigation believes that criminal networks are using agents to put pressure on players to fix games.

The Times of London had revealed on Tuesday that Dickson Etuhu, a football agent and former Nigeria midfielder who played for Manchester City, Sunderland and Fulham during his Premier League career, is at the centre of an inquiry into match-fixing in Sweden's top division, the Allsvenskan.

Fredrik Gardare, the detective chief inspector in charge of the Swedish police unit targeting organised crime, said that the money in football was attracting criminals.

"Football involves a lot of money and the fees paid to agents have increased and that has attracted individuals whom (Swedish) police are already well familiar with," he said.

"The ones that do the match-fixing are separate networks, but they have contact with each other. It's reasonable to think that, if you want to make even more money, if you already have something on a player or a manager, you can make use of that for match-fixing.

Etuhu, 35, was interviewed by Swedish police after a Gothenburg v AIK Stockholm match was called off in May following an attempt to make the AIK goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos underperform.

Stamatopoulos was both offered a large sum of money to fix the match and threatened.

The police investigation is "in its final phase", according to Gardare and prosecutors are expected to announce a decision on any charges within the next four weeks.

The Swedish TV programme Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts) has uncovered a network of agents secretly involved in the country's biggest football deals, and Hakan Sjostrand, secretary general of the Swedish Football Association, says that tougher regulations will be brought in next year to control agents in the country.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'Swedish agents enticed by criminals'. Print Edition | Subscribe