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Former Southend United youth teamer David Obaze arrested in Aussie match fixing probe
A FORMER Southend United youth teamer is one of 10 people who have been arrested as part of an investigation into Australia’s largest match-fixing scandal.
David Obaze, who has also had brief stints at East Thurrock and Concord Rangers, has been playing for Melbourne club Southern Stars, who are currently bottom of the Victoria Premier League table after 16 defeats, four draws and only one win in their 21 games.
The 23-year-old central defender is among a group of men taken into custody by Victoria Police on Sunday.
Three others also had previous connections to Essex sides: goal-keeper Joe Woolley, 23, used to play for Thurrock, ex-Grays midfielder Nick Mckoy, 27, and former Hornchurch defender Reiss Noel, 23, who attracted interest from both Canvey Island and Concord Rangers before he moved to Australia in the summer.
The club’s coach Zaya Younan was also arrested, and Malaysian national Gerry Gsubramaniam, 45, has been arrested and charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event, and of facilitating conduct that corrupts or could corrupt the outcome of a betting event.
London-born Obaze started his football career at League Two Southend United and left Roots Hall for Bromley before moving on to Histon, Weymouth, Grays Athletic, Sutton United and Bishop’s Stortford.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wagered on the outcome of Southern Stars’ games on the Asian betting markets, including the number of goals conceded, by a match-fixing syndicate in collaboration with the allegedly corrupted players.
The charges relate to an alleged match-fixing ring estimated to have reaped more than $2 million of betting winnings, mainly overseas, from manipulating scores of the bottom-placed Southern Stars in the Victorian Premier League.
It follows a Victoria police investigation which began last month on information from Swiss-based sports and betting data intelligence agency Sportradar, which was passed on by Football Federation Australia.
The Stars’ only win so far this season was a 1-0 victory over top side Northcote City on August 18.
They had lost their previous four matches, conceding a total of 13 goals and not scoring any.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop welcomed the work of the police and Sportradar.
“This highlights the fact that lower league games, which aren’t under the scrutiny of things like TV broadcasts, are potentially more susceptible to this kind of activity,” he said.
“What we can say is the detection measures that we’ve had in place have worked, and that is a sign we’re working in the right direction.”