Saturday 18 November 2017

Swedish football federation vows to hunt down would-be match-fixers after top-flight game is postponed

The Allsvenska game between IFK Gothenburg and AIK was called off
The Allsvenska game between IFK Gothenburg and AIK was called off Newsdesk Newsdesk

Swedish Football Federation general secretary Hakan Sjostrand has vowed to go after anyone involved in match-fixing after a top-flight contest was postponed over an apparent attempt to influence the outcome.

The SvFF announced on Thursday that the decision to call off the Allsvenska game between IFK Gothenburg and AIK was taken after it emerged an unnamed AIK player had been offered money to under-perform.

The fixture, which is one of the biggest on the domestic calendar, had been scheduled to take place at IFK's Gamla Ullevi stadium on Thursday night.

Sjostrand attended a press conference in Stockholm on Thursday morning and promised the SvFF would do everything in its power to keep match-fixing out of the Swedish game.

"This is a message for those who try to destroy football," he said. We are going to chase you. We are going to chase you as much as we can.

"We will do everything we can to identify you and get rid of you. We don't want you in Swedish football. You are not welcome."

Initial news of the postponement came through a statement from the SvFF, which said: "The attempt to rig the Allsvenska match between IFK Gothenburg and AIK took place on Tuesday.

"The AIK player was called to a meeting at which he was offered a substantial amount in compensation - if he actively contributed to the club losing this evening's scheduled match."

Sjostrand further explained: "Late yesterday evening I was contacted by AIK's chief executive (Mikael Ahlerup), who asked me to immediately go to Karlberg (the club's training complex).

"An AIK player had on Tuesday been approached by a match-fixer, who offered a considerable amount of money and, making harmful threats, asked the player to under-perform against IFK Gothenburg.

"It was collectively agreed to postpone this evening's match and the police have begun an investigation.

"This is a serious attack on Swedish football and we will never accept it. Therefore it's important we react with force.

"All of our matches should be secure and decided on sporting grounds. Based on that information we can not guarantee that tonight's match is a secure match.

"In addition, this match is one of the most high profile in football. It involves two of the biggest clubs, a lot of tradition and, above all, is exciting. Exciting because no-one knows how the match will finish, who will win. And we have to ensure the match is decided on the pitch."

IFK chairman Frank Andersson voiced his support for the decision to postpone the match.

He said: "For us, the players, the staff, the board and all other personnel, it was an obvious decision to take and we fully understand how AIK as a club took this very seriously and passed it on to the SvFF."

It is the first top-flight game in Sweden to be dogged by match-fixing allegations, although several lower-league fixtures have previously been investigated.

AIK sporting manager Bjorn Wesstrom is confident the club can cope with the extra attention they will now receive.

"It's a reality that players are contacted," he said. "We understand this will cause disruption to our squad.

"There are going to be many insinuations, a lot of looking over shoulders. That may be the case, this is a unique situation. But we can say that our players are extremely determined and have an enormous amount of courage."

Wesstrom also confirmed AIK players had for now been told not to speak to the media.

A new date has yet to be decided for the fixture. AIK are currently sixth in the Allsvenska standings, five points and four places better off than IFK.

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