POLICE on Monday said that they were looking into match-fixing allegations by a Portuguese football player regarding a game in Cyprus dating back to December 2011.
Pedro Bonifacio – now with Portuguese lower league Atletico Malveira but who played for Doxa Katokopia in the past – told Portuguese magazine Expresso he was part of a fixed game during Doxa’s Cup game against Olympiakos Nicosia on December 7, 2011.
In the interview, Bonifacio was quoted as saying that their opponents had ‘thrown’ the first half of the game.
“At halftime, we were winning 2-0 but there was silence in the changing rooms. The coach did not speak but the club president [Pambos Argyrou] walked in and told us that we had to lose the game in the second half. And so we ended up losing 3-2.”
The player went on to allege the Doxa squad were told to lose in order for their wages to be paid. He believed that the Olympiakos team were in on it, as they had bet to go behind in the first half and then win in the second.
But Bonifacio later backtracked on his statements, telling inquiring Cypriot media that the Portuguese publication had misconstrued his remarks.
He had not related a personal experience, he said, adding that he was recounting a “story told to him by a friend” and that he never “spoke of any game, clubs or individuals.”
But he declined to name the person who told him about the incident. It was also unclear when precisely he was claiming to have first heard of it.
Confounding matters further, Bonifacio’s transfer history shows he joined Doxa from Portuguese side Mafra in July 2011 – six months prior to the game in question.
He remained on Doxa’s roster until July 2012.
Asked to comment, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said the police were aware of the Bonifacio interview as well as the subsequent retraction.
“We will study its contents and accordingly decide what to do next.”
Police had back then investigated the December 2011 match and taken depositions. The investigation found no wrongdoing.
It’s also understood that the game in question had been flagged by UEFA in a so-called ‘red dossier’ – files on games exhibiting “unusual betting patterns,” a strong indicator that match fixing was involved.
Cyprus Football Association (CFA) chairman President Costakis Koutsokoumnis said he has asked the police to contact Portuguese authorities in order that Bonifacio may be interviewed.
“These are very serious allegations and we are considering asking for UEFA’s assistance. We shall not let this matter slide,” Koutsokoumnis told sports website Goal.com.
Bonifacio has meantime told radio station Super Spor FM he is willing to cooperate with Cypriot police if asked.
Pambos Argyrou, chairman of Doxa at the time, denied having visited the dressing room at half time or telling the players to throw the game.
Irrespective of the outcome of these allegations, the same club has been named several times in reports by Belgian-based match fixing watchdog Federbet.