Ex-Portsmouth player Sam Sodje and his brother Stephen were held by police investigating football corruption this weekend following the Sun newspaper’s investigation findings into match fixing and betting allegations.
The National Crime Agency further confirmed that five people were arrested on Sunday morning, and bailed that evening until April 2014. A sixth individual was arrested on Sunday evening.
Sodje was secretly filmed by an undercover Sun reporter, describing how he was paid £70,000 to get a red card in a League One game.
Pompey fans will remember the incident in February 2013 well, as at the time it seemed like a bizarre series of events. 5o minutes into the game the Nigerian appeared to punch Oldham forward Jose Baxter twice in the crotch which lead to Sodje’s dismissal. Oldham went on to win the match 1-0.
Sodje appeared to purposely involve himself in the match incident and later in the Sun newspaper’s recording admitted to ‘seeing the opportunity to get a red card and be sent off’. He also went on to boast that he was only fined £10,000 for the incident but received £70,000 for his actions.
Sodje also explained to the undercover reporter that the referee wasn’t booking him during the match and that ‘he had to do it’ to get sent off.
Portsmouth Football Club had asked for questions about the match fixing allegations not to be fielded during the unveiling press conference of new manager Richie Barker but inevitably the question was brought up.
Pompey chairman Iain McInness said: “I think when you see on TV that betters can check-out before a final result, meaning you don’t even have to win a bet anymore, or they can bet on corners and cards in a match somethings not right.
“It’s inevitable if you make something like betting so big and so readily available to sports in this way that you will have a bunch of bad characters who will take advantage of it.
“I don’t understand how you can take something like Formula 1 racing and tell the teams to take off cigarette advertising but you can’t do the same thing with the betting industry. They’re equally addictive things and in the past I have had friends whose lives have been ruined by gambling.
“I think it’s about time the government clamped down and said enough is enough, this has gone too far.”
In a statement on behalf of Portsmouth Football Club, spokesman Colin Farmery from FC Media said: “If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game.
“The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would co-operate fully with any inquiry.”
A comment from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said: “The PFA is aware of the reports in yesterday’s media regarding allegations of ‘match fixing’ and other related activity.
“These allegations, if proven, unfortunately demonstrate the real issue football faces in terms of corruption and highlights the necessity of the work carried out by the PFA and other stakeholders in the game in educating players of these risks. We take the issue of integrity very seriously and will continue in our efforts to eradicate this evil from our game.”
Click here for a link to Iain McInnes’ interview video on YouTube