PASSING himself off as an investigator, he offered to help Fifa identify fixed matches during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
But the 33-year-old man turned out to be linked to match-fixers.
And the true intentions of his offer to the world football governing body were later exposed, said Mr Chris Eaton, Fifa’s head of security.
He told The New Paper yesterday: “In the worst case scenario, he would have had access to Fifa’s early warning system, or he would have known which games were being watched by Fifa investigators.
“Also, he would have the knowledge to bet against a fix.”
Mr Eaton declined to name the man. But he said checks later showed that the man, whom we will call Jack, had links to the accused in the Bochum trial in Germany.
The trial centres on about 300 matches in Europe that were allegedly rigged.
Mr Eaton made a brief reference to Jack at a press conference on Wednesday at the Amara hotel. He was in Singapore to brief the Football Association of Singapore and local law enforcement agencies about Singaporeans involved in global match-fixing.
The former director of operations at Interpol cited Jack’s case as one of the boldest attempts made by match-fixers.
As a result, it opened his eyes to the “true extent of criminal incursion into the world’s most popular sport”.
Fortunately, Jack was not able to compromise any World Cup matches, he said.
Jack, who is from a Balkan country, was recommended to Fifa investigators by an official from a European football association.
Before the World Cup began last June, Mr Eaton, 59, spoke to Jack over the phone.
Both men then met in Austria, where Mr Eaton’s “policeman’s intuition” made him suspicious of Jack.
“He exaggerated a lot about who he was. He said he was from the German secret service and knew all the people in the criminal underworld,” said Mr Eaton.
“This raised my concerns about his credibility.”
Whenever Mr Eaton asked about his background, Jack would become evasive.
Mr Eaton admitted that Jack’s bragging was no indication that he was guilty of anything, hence he was allowed to join Fifa’s investigation team.
But he was kept on a short leash. For the next 10 days during the World Cup, he was monitored closely.
Jack’s role was limited to “working from the hotel”, Mr Eaton said.
He had offered information on six teams that had been allegedly compromised in the 2010 World Cup.
Mr Eaton pressed Jack for hard evidence.
“I told him, ‘Give me evidence’, but he couldn’t,” revealed Mr Eaton.
“Whatever outcomes he predicted were not good. They were wrong.”
The German magazine Stern also reported last September on a similar infiltration during the World Cup – that an official from a European FA had sent Jack to the World Cup as his “best man”.
At the tournament, Jack claimed that six teams had been “bought”, citing sources from the Chinese secret service.
Jack’s charade soon came to an end.
While monitoring Jack, Fifa investigators found out about his shady background.
They realised that Jack may have been playing both sides.
Nobody knew him
Said one of the investigators: “We were locked-on to him after two days. We checked our sources in the European law enforcement agencies and nobody seemed to know who he was.
“What we later learned was that, as an ‘investigator’ for the European FA, he had exposed match-fixing in some European matches only because he was actually working for another betting syndicate. He was getting rid of competition.”
Stern seemed to share the same opinion.
It reported that a document it had seen indicated that “they (Fifa) suspected Jack was effectively working as a sort of double agent in tandem with the very people the European FA was trying to expose”.
Jack’s character was first exposed after a scandal involving a 2008 football tournament in Europe.
Apparently, Jack had insinuated that one semi-final matches had been fixed. As a result, one of the teams pressed charges against the European FA official and Jack.
Since he was thrust into the public’s eye, various reports have emerged questioning his credibility.
Stern also revealed that Jack was the subject of an investigation for fraudulent business practices.
It highlighted his ties to the Sapina brothers – Ante, Filip and Milan – who were convicted of fixing matches with the help of corrupt referee Robert Hoyzer in early 2006.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Croatians were arrested again in November 2009, this time for fixing up to 270 different matches across Europe.
On Thursday, Ante Sapina was sentenced to 5½ years’ jail. He had admitted to rigging more than 20 matches, including a World Cup qualifying match and several others in the top European club competitions, reported the Associated Press.
Two other accomplices – Marijo Cvrtak and Dragan Mihelic from Slovenia – were sentenced to 5½ years’ jail and an 18-month suspended sentence respectively.
The Croatian Times quoted a hotel owner calling Jack “a liar, deceiver and thief” for failing to pick up his hotel tab last September.
A spokesman for the German prosecutor’s office revealed that Jack was not registered with any of the organisations that he mentioned, such as the law enforcement agency.
The scandal may have proved too much for this European FA.
Last September, it announced that Jack was no longer working for it.
He has now vanished from public view.