‘Fit-fixing has become an epidemic’

23 Apr 2022 | 08:42 | Football

Former Saifur national team striker and coach Rahman Moni has resigned following a match in which his side, Azampur FC, were accused of being involved in match-fixing in the Bangladesh Champions League (BCL). Moni revealed her brief BCL experience with The Daily Star’s Anisur Rahman in an interview. Excerpts below:

The Daily Star (DS): What was your first coaching experience like after retiring from football?

Saifur Rahman Moni (SRM): The experience is good but the environment and situation in Bangladesh Championship League (BCL) is really bad and dirty. I don’t know about the situation in Bangladesh Premier League but BCL is messed up.

DS: You complain about your seventh and eighth games but what about the first six?

SRM: Everything went in the right direction in the first six games because I believe the boys fought hard in every game. However, I had doubts about the seventh match [against Uttara FC] but everything was clear to me in the eighth game [against Farashganj SC]I then resigned as a coach.

DS: Can you please elaborate more on how the two matches went?

SRM: In fact, if you are on the field, you will also understand clearly that the match is being fixed. Why do I have to work so hard from 6:30 to 11 a.m. for the team if the outcome of the game is predetermined by an outsider rather than the performance on the field? What happened to Farashganj SC is truly naked. You see, I always change the captain’s armband in every game and I appointed Faizullah as the captain in the match against Farashganj but the club president Saidur Rahman Manik opposed this move and reappointed Saddam as the team. chief. This incident surprised me because it had never happened before. During the match, the club president stood in my place and gave instructions to the players, saying ‘Go! Scored ‘. Also, Farashganj didn’t play against the players I did my homework with. After looking at everything, I understood that something was wrong. When the game started, it became too obvious for the opponent to let the players attack the goal.

DS: Who do you think is involved in the wrongdoing?

SRM: Match-fixing has been going on in our domestic leagues for a long time but it has been limited to deciding titles or avoiding relegation. This time around, however, many clubs joined instead of a single team. Sometimes players, club officials or coaches also participate. In short, who is needed to fix the match, is being used. It’s all related to a large organization, I think, who are very difficult to reveal publicly.

DS: Do you share your observations with the BFF?

SRM: Yes, I have written to the General Secretary of Bangladesh Football Federation saying that I am in doubt as to whether our club will play the seventh and eighth matches properly, so that I do not participate in any any illegal activity.

DS: Why do fixed matches, match-fixing or betting take place?

SRM: I think the main goal of doing such things is money. I don’t know how much money is exchanged in each fixed match but it must be a large amount. We’ve heard that there are about 4-5 clubs involved in match-fixing, which has become an epidemic here, I think.

DS: What is your BCL standard?

SRM: BCL players are supposed to move to higher level leagues like BPL but how many players move there each season? Very little quantity. I want to share something else with you. At first, when I asked our players questions regarding basic soccer terms, only one or two could answer. I think there is no product from the BCL and the match-fixing is also destroying the players more.

DS: Does the BFF arrange any seminars on match-fixing issues before starting the BCL?

SRM: No, I don’t see anything. However, the BFF did a good job of arranging a conference, in the presence of the players and the referee, to announce the updated rules of the game.

DS: Do you think it is possible to eliminate match-fixing?

SRM: Nothing is impossible. I think every party involved needs to be aware of match-fixing. I think journalists barely cover BCL games but once they do cover Pioneer League games. There are hardly any representatives of the federation present in BCL matches. I think with increased surveillance, such things would not have happened openly as they are now.