Lebanese Soccer Referee: I Learned Match-Fixing From Watching YouTube Videos


Ali Sabbagh, the jailed referee who testified against Singaporean businessman Eric Ding Si Yang, who is charged with bribing soccer referees to fix matches.

YouTube is a tool used by many to learn how to cook meals, perfect dance moves and even just to vent frustrations. It can also be a tool for corrupt officials to cheat the system.

During a Singaporean businessman’s trial on charges of providing women to three soccer officials in exchange for them rigging soccer matches, one of the referees involved claimed that he learned how to fix games through YouTube.

The AFP reported that Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh, who is currently serving a six-month sentence for accepting bribes from businessman Eric Ding Si Yang, testified in Ding’s trial that in a series of email exchanges, he received between 20 to 30 YouTube links showing him bad referee decisions. This would influence Sabbagh to make decisions that worked in Ding’s favor.

Sabbagh said: “The videos had too many decisions where the decision made by the referee is not the right decision.”

Eric Ding Si Yang, the businessman accused of bribing soccer referees to fix matches.

Eric Ding Si Yang, the businessman accused of bribing soccer referees to fix matches.

He added that through the series of emails, Ding explained that the best way to rig matches is to award penalties.

Alan Loh, the prosecutor responsible for Ding’s case, explained the charges to Bloomberg: “In every football match, game officials are key to ensuring a fair result based on the abilities and skills of the football teams. In this case, the very officials who were meant to uphold sporting excellence and sportsmanship bartered away their professional integrity in return for free sexual services.”

If convicted, Ding faces a five year prison term and a fine of $80,000 for each charge of corruption.

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