Three Lebanese football referees were dropped from an AFC Cup match in Singapore and questioned by anti-corruption officers in the city-state's latest match-fixing scare. Referee Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb were charged with one count of "corruptly receiving gratification in the form of free sexual service", Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said in a statement.
The 33-year-old Sabbagh (photo) has been a FIFA referee since 2008 and has taken charge of World Cup qualifiers in Asia in recent times. He officiated in Nepal’s 2-1 win over East Timor and Oman’s win over Myanmar, both in 2011. His last match was Al Shaab - Duhok, in the 2013 AFC Cup. The three match officials remain in custody while their application for bail is being processed. A Singaporean businessman has been charged with corruption for offering free sex to the three Lebanese soccer referees to induce them to fix a match in the city-state. The anti-corruption agency said it launched an investigation after receiving prior information of match-fixing involving a game between Singapore club Tampines Rovers and East Bengal of India on Wednesday. East Bengal won 4-2 with replacement officials from Thailand and Malaysia. "Singapore has always adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption and match-fixing of any form is not condoned in Singapore", the statement said. "The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau investigates into match-fixing through bribery cases and will not hesitate to take action against any parties involved if they had given or received bribes to fix a match". An 18-month review by Europol recently revealed that a Singapore-based crime syndicate has been involved in fixing football matches around the world, including World Cup qualifiers and Champions League matches.