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FIFA in Malaysia on match-fixing probe

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 18- Three officials from football's ruling body FIFA will arrive in Malaysia on Thursday as part of a global investigation into match-fixing and illegal gambling.

The anti-corruption unit will be led by FIFA’s head of security Chris Eaton, Azzuddin Ahmad, general secretary of the Football Federation of Malaysia (FAM), told AFP on Wednesday.

Azzuddin said Eaton would meet FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and top police officers from the vice and anti-gaming unit as part of FIFA’s global crackdown on match-fixing on three continents.

"I believe FIFA’s visit is about match-fixing. We never condone any form of match-fixing. Hopefully the FIFA team can help shed some light over the allegations of corruption.

"We are in the dark over the claims," he added.

Azzuddin, however, said the allegations must be investigated since failure to do so "will destroy the image of the game".

FIFA is investigating claims that more than 300 matches on three continents were influenced by match-fixers.

Last week, the New Straits Times newspaper said FIFA’s full investigation into match-fixing had led to two Malaysians, adding that its investigators would interview several people here.

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Employees from at least six different national football associations are under suspicion of assisting the criminal network, which is thought to work out of Singapore and Malaysia.

FIFA suspects match officials were paid as little as $10,000 to help engineer specific results in international friendly matches and European club games, netting fixers hundreds of millions of dollars on Asian betting markets.

The global football body fears the upcoming under-17 and under-20 World Championships are at risk.

The newspaper said FIFA would also investigate two Malaysia-Zimbabwe friendly matches played in 2009.

Malaysia won both matches but FIFA subsequently revoked the status of the games after it was determined that a Zimbabwean club side had taken the field rather than the national team.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently said that football’s world governing body would donate $28 million to Interpol to fund a dedicated anti-corruption unit in Singapore to help fight match-fixing.

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