Minerva Punjab report match-fixing approach made to their players

AIFF Media

Ranjit Bajaj, owner of I-League leaders Minerva Punjab, has reported approaches made to two of his players, to fix matches for INR 30 lakh (approx. $47,000). The report was made to All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), with the AFC contacted via their mobile-based integrity application on Wednesday night.

"On Tuesday evening, one of our Indian players told me he had received a phone call from someone asking if he wanted to make some easy money," Bajaj told ESPN. "Later that day I sent a WhatsApp message to our team group telling players to be careful of such approaches.

"On Wednesday, one of our foreign players told me that he had received an approach over Facebook. He had been asked if he would be willing to fix matches for 30 lakh rupees. Or whether he would ask someone to help in fixing games," he said.

Bajaj informed AIFF's integrity officer Javed Siraj of the incident while also reporting the same on the "AFC Integrity App" that was launched in November last year to report suspicious activities of match-fixing in real time.

In response, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told ANI this morning that they have asked Bajaj to send more details. "He [Bajaj] approached integrity officer who asked him to send details to start investigation. He hasn't sent anything, [we] can't initiate investigation based on tweets," he said.

Bajaj said he had checked the credentials of one of the individuals who had approached his players and found that "he claimed to be based in Mallorca, but was from India."

"This morning I got a call from the AIFF integrity officer asking me to file a formal complaint. I will do that and also register an FIR [First Information Report] with the police this evening. I am not sure what the procedure to deal with complaints is since this is the first time I am dealing with this situation," he said.

AIFF appointed Siraj as their integrity officer in 2014, which requires him to act as "the single point of contact in the matters relating to integrity of games." ESPN understands the standard procedure is to first communicate the incident to the integrity officer along with proof. The officer would then investigate the case before taking it further.

"I need to applaud the two footballers who recognised, rejected and reported the incident," Siraj was quoted in an AIFF release.

AIFF regulations state that if suspected of match manipulation, there's a chance that players, coaches, referees or match officials can be removed, substituted or even suspended till the conclusion of an enquiry.