AFC: No evidence of Lebanon-Qatar World Cup fix


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- A match-fixing investigation in Lebanon produced no evidence that a national team defender helped Qatar win a 2014 World Cup qualifier, the Asian Football Confederation said Thursday.

Attempting to control widespread speculation on the match, the Asian governing body said it studied a summary report from an investigation into match-fixing and bribery ordered by the Lebanon Football Association.

"AFC has no knowledge on any suspicion surrounding Lebanon's ... 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches," it said in a statement.

On Monday, the Lebanon FA banned national team defender Ramez Dayoub for life among 24 players receiving suspensions of at least one season. They included six players who have represented Lebanon in its ongoing campaign to qualify for the World Cup.

The sanctions revived speculation on Dayoub's misplaced pass which led to Qatar's goal in a 1-0 win in Beirut last June. The match began the fourth round of Asian qualifying with the top two finishers advancing to Brazil from a five-team group that includes Iran, South Korea and Uzbekistan. Lebanon is last in the group but remains in contention.

Lebanon coach Theo Buecker has said that "after seeing this from Dayoub, I kicked him out" of the team.

In an interview published Thursday in the United Arab Emirates sports daily Sport360, Buecker said he is "broken" by the scandal and will consider whether to quit as coach of the national side over the next couple of days.

"I don't know yet what I will do. I need to speak to the board and president," he said. "I can't say whether I will continue or not. Inside, I'm broken. I need to think things over and make the right decision."

Buecker also he felt let down by the football establishment in Lebanon, which has had a history of match-fixing problems.

"Personally, I am very disappointed with a couple of guys I really trusted," he said. "I was putting a lot of effort, a lot of time a lot of work into making a path in this country, and some really stupid idiots have destroyed everything."

The AFC congratulated the Lebanon FA on its actions, and has requested "the full investigation report."

Lebanese officials, who invited Jordan FA general secretary Fadi Zreiqat to investigate the case, concluded that players took money to lose domestic and other matches in Asia for betting scams.

"AFC has also set up an internal task force to educate the member associations on ways and measures to combat this menace, and monitor and coordinate with everyone involved to fight match-fixing in AFC competitions," the governing body said.

All 24 players, including Dayoub, who played in Malaysia for Selangor, and two other players representing clubs outside Lebanon, were also suspended across the AFC's 46 member countries.

FIFA will be asked to extend the sanctions to apply worldwide.