Cameroon Faces Match-Fixing Probe

By Joshua Robinson and Emmanuel TumanjongDow Jones Newswires

The President of Cameroon has ordered an investigation into the performance of the national soccer team in Brazil, following allegations that players purposely lost matches at this year's World Cup tournament.

The call by President Paul Biya to investigate the team and its officials comes after Cameroon was eliminated from the group stage of the tournament. The team bowed out after losing Group A games to Mexico, Croatia and Brazil by a combined score of 9-1.

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Two police officials in Cameroon said Monday they saw the national side's star player Samuel Eto'o meet with investigators last Thursday in the capital, Yaoundé. Other officials from Cameroon's national soccer federation were questioned on Friday. Mr. Eto'o wasn't available for comment.

In a statement Monday, Cameroon's soccer federation, Fecafoot, said its ethics committee would carry out the investigation. The federation said it hadn't been contacted about the allegations by FIFA, soccer's world governing body.

The statement comes after a German magazine article published Sunday cast doubt over the legitimacy of Cameroon's three World Cup results.

Fecafoot said the alleged fraud does "not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with FIFA code of conduct and the ethics of our nation."

The federation also said that allegations made outside the investigation should be "treated as mere assumption."

It added that in its 55-year history, it "has never been sanctioned for, involved in, or even linked to match fixing or any fraud of any kind."

FIFA declined to say whether or not it had opened its own investigation.

"Speaking generally, the integrity of the game is a top priority for FIFA and as such we take any allegations of match manipulation very seriously," a FIFA official wrote in an email.

The allegations first surfaced in the German publication Der Spiegel, which published an interview with Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean who has been convicted of match manipulation in Finland.

Der Spiegel wrote that in an interview conducted over Facebook, Mr. Perumal said there were "seven bad apples" in the squad, referring to players who might have taken payments to alter the outcome. The magazine also said Mr. Perumal accurately predicted the outcome of Cameroon's match against Croatia and that a player would be sent off.

As it happened, Croatia won the match 4-0 and Cameroon midfielder Alex Song received a red card in the first half.

In a statement released Tuesday, Mr. Perumal denied predicting the outcome of the match in the Facebook chat with Der Spiegel. "At no time did I make reference to four goals being scored or to a red card being issued," he said. "At no time did I suggest that I had any way of corroborating or substantiating what was meant to be an educated guess based on my extensive match-fixing experience."

A person close to Cameroon's team described the allegations against Mr. Song as "rubbish."

Representatives for Der Spiegel declined to comment.

Several Cameroon players and football officials have declined to comment on the allegations after being reached by phone.

Dubbed the Indomitable Lions, Cameroon has been an African soccer power. In 1990, Cameroon became the first African team to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals.