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FIFA Launches Probe into Fishy Friendlies

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

International football's governing body FIFA has launched an investigation into two friendlies played in the Turkish resort of Antalya on February 9, following up concerns about heavy betting on the matches, in which all goals were scored on penalties.

Estonia, along with Latvia, Bolivia and Bulgaria, had appealed to both FIFA and UEFA to look into the matches' refereeing agency, AFP reported.

"After analyzing the bets made on the Latvia-Bolivia and Estonia-Bulgaria friendlies, it has become clear that in both matches, unnaturally big bets were made on the games ending with three goals scored," Estonian Football Association spokesman Mihkel Uiboleht told AFP.

"Everything so far, both our analysis and on the international level, indicates there was manipulation by the referee," he said on TV3 earlier.

The friendlies ended in a 2-2 draw for Estonia and Bulgaria, while Latvia beat Bolivia 2-1.

In a statement, Estonia's FA chief Aivar Pohlak stressed that it is the games' organizers and referees, not the teams themselves, who are under suspicion.

The Latvian Football Association said that both games were organized by Footy Sport International, which media reports have identified as a Thailand-based agency.

Reuters reports that there was also confusion over which referee was in charge of the game. While official information from the Bulgarian Football Union and the Estonian FA say the referee was Hungarian Krisztian Selmecz, the Hungarian referees' chief Laszlo Wagner and Hungarian media indicated the referee was Selmecz's fellow countryman Kolos Lengyel.

Wagner said that all three match officials involved would now be suspended.

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