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Algeria Football: Give me £6,500, get a free penalty - how corruption eats at the heart of Algerian football

Algeria has a legitimate claim to be called a football-mad country. But it is not all about passion, culture and history. Another kind of madness is eating at the heart of its football.

"It is easy for everyone to fix matches and arrange results", a match-fixer told the BBC.

"You just have to understand the process and the tricks."
According to him, and to multiple sources - intermediaries, past and current players, referees and football executives, initiators and victims of bribery and corruption - who were approached by BBC undercover operatives in the course of a three-year investigation, systematic, systemic corruption has been allowed to go unchecked at every level in the Algerian game.

As one of Algeria's former senior football executives put it, in his country, football is 'not just a game'.

A former senior Fifa executive went further and told us: "Algerian football may have already passed the tipping point".
According to the information which has been obtained by the BBC, bribery of players and officials is so commonplace in Algerian football that there is a quasi-official 'price list'.

The list is agreed by all parties, and determines how much it costs to buy players and officials - corruption a la carte - given the context and importance of a particular game.

In the First Division, for example, the award of a penalty kick by a corrupted official will cost a minimum of DZD1m, the equivalent of £6,500.

This in a country where international-qualified referees earn less than 10% of this sum in a month.

Meanwhile a draw will cost twice as much, a win and three points over £50k.

Prices will go up as the end of the season draws nearer and a title - or escaping relegation - can be bought.

Nor is the corruption limited to the top two divisions of Algerian football: even youth team games are affected.

"It's really hell there [in the lower divisions]", the chairman of a professional club told one of our investigators. "Violence, corruption - you have all the plagues".
Everyone appears to know how the system works.

"We know them [the corrupters], but no one does anything", a former high-ranking official of the Algerian FA told the BBC.

"It's a political problem, (and) when politicians interfere in football, it's the end."

Knowing references to "strange" results are routinely made on Algerian media. Club presidents publicly bemoan corruption.

But naming the culprits and addressing specific instances of bribery is another matter, however, which is why our sources insisted on their anonymity being respected: speaking out would put the whistleblowers at risk.

"In Algeria, there is no place for heroes", a respected Algerian football commentator told us. "They will be victims".

What's more, wealthy "superfans" can sometimes be complicit in the fixing of games which they openly discuss online and in their messaging groups, when they don't bend results themselves by using intimidation and violence.
Algeria Football: Give me £6,500, get a free penalty - how corruption eats at the heart of Algerian football Reviewed by Akande Boluwatife on September 19, 2018 Rating: 5

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