Lebanese referees face jail in Singapore match-fixing probe

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A Singaporean businessman who allegedly encouraged three Lebanese referees to fix a football match has denied the charges and sought bail, reported online media outlet MSN on Wednesday.

Eric Ding Si Yang is accused of offering the referees free sexual intercourse with women in a bid to have them fix an AFC Cup match between the Singapore-based Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal last Wednesday.

State investigators said the Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh and his fellow colleagues Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb all accepted the offer but were pulled off duty before the match began.

Ding has been held in a Singaporean prison since being charged with three counts of corruption on Saturday.

The Lebanese referees are being held on similar charges pending their bail hearing.

The four are the first to be arrested in the country’s renewed efforts to crackdown on match-fixing since coming under international pressure in February to do so.

"We are going to trial, your honor," Ding’s lawyer, Thong Chee Kun, told a district judge on Tuesday when asked for his client’s plea.

State prosecutors opposed granting bail but the judge scheduled a bail hearing later on Tuesday for Ding.

If convicted, each faces a maximum prison term of five years, a fine of up to Singaporean $100,000 ($U.S.81,000), or both.

Singapore has a long record of football match-fixing scandals, reported MSN.

The Southeast Asian island is home to various syndicates that have been blamed by Europol for creating an international network responsible for rigging hundreds of games worldwide.

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