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20.09.2007 Sports News

Betting Agents Invade Queens’ Camp

By Daily Graphic
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News of match-fixing almost hit the Black Queens camp at the ongoing Women's World Cup (WWC) as some betting agents yesterday tried to invade their hotel in a bid to get some of the players to play a fixed match against Norway in their last group match to be played today.

The agents came to the Queens' Radisson Plaza Hotel where other teams, Brazil and Denmark, also playing at the Hangzhou Stadium today are based, to try and influence some of the players to lose today's match 1-6 to Norway and in return get $22,000 each as reward.

Four players, a goalkeeper, two defenders and a midfielder were the targets of the agent probably fronting for the main agents, a South American looking guy, well built with a neat hair cut, hovered around the hotel lobby the whole day and tried to get some of the players to talk to him, asking for the room numbers of the targeted players.

Indeed, this reporter was earlier approached by the gentleman to help him reach the players, but little did she know of his intentions until the alarm had blown and he subsequently left the hotel.

Initially, it was assumed that he had come to seek autographs of the players, as others had been doing but he insisted I gave him their room numbers.

Unfortunately, officials with the team tried to hush-hush the incident and possibly keep it away from the Ghanaian media — this Daily Graphic reporter and Miss Veronica Commey of the GNA, and held an emergency meeting with the players, and advised them not to tell anyone or talk about the issue to anyone.

Furthermore, all the telephone lines to their rooms were immediately cut. But that plan fell through as some of the players forgot themselves and let the cat out of the bag as they discussed the issue in the lift, and thankfully the journalists had wind of it.

A quick dash back to the lobby to get more information proved futile as the gentleman was nowhere to be seen.

For a Ghanaian side that had no further role to play in this WWC other than honour the official last group match which was of no consequence to them, many would wonder why the agents will try to work through them.

However, the Queens have as much influence on who qualifies from Group C as they could upset the Norwegians if they manage a win. That way, it could also open a chance for the Canadians who could go through with a draw against Australia in their match also to be played today.

Australia top the group with four points and plus three goals, having won 4-1 against Ghana and holding Norway to a 1-1 draw. The Norwegians are second with four points too but trail behind on goals after beating Canada 2-1 and drawing with the Aussies.

Canada are third with three points courtesy their 4-0 win against Ghana. Thus with the chances so close, the Queens, if they play their trump card very well could play a crucial role even if it takes them no where, and that probably explains why they would be the target of betting agents, something that FIFA frowns upon and which has already put Black Meteors Goalkeepers Trainer, Abubakari Damba, in trouble in an alleged similar incident during the Meteors friendly international in Saudi Arabia some months ago.