He says he never wanted to be famous; he just wanted a piece of the action.
He says he’s not a real criminal, yet he’s spent more than 10 years in jail.
He says football is a beautiful sport, but he represents the single-biggest threat to the integrity of the professional game.
Wilson Raj Perumal is known as the world’s most prolific match-fixer, and I’m sitting face-to-face with him in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. It’s the first time he’s ever been interviewed on television.
Perumal has recently published his memoirs, “Kelong Kings,” his account of an astonishing career spanning almost two decades, in which he says he rigged – with a success rate of roughly 80% – about 100 football matches all over the world. He was particularly active in the three years leading up to his final arrest in 2011.
From the Olympics to World Cup qualifiers, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the African Cup of Nations, the Women’s World Cup and numerous other friendly international fixtures, Perumal claims to have operated at the sharp end of an Asian fixing syndicate, conducting their business on four continents.
Most match fixers are anonymous. Investigators tracking the problem believe that Wilson Raj Perumal is just the tip of the iceberg, but since his arrest in 2011 (the fourth time he was tried and convicted for football-related crimes), he’s become the public face of match fixing. The publication of his story has given us a fascinating window into a global, clandestine, operation.
He is a fascinating character. From humble beginnings in Singapore, Perumal rose to become a shareholder in a sophisticated, multi-million dollar fixing syndicate. He claims to have made around $5 million illegally, showing no remorse for it. And he has little regret for blowing it all, a fortune frittered away as a result of his gambling habit.
Perumal speaks very matter-of-factly about his activities, fondly recalling the FIFA accredited referees he was so easily able to…