ON THE MORNING of Feb. 20, 2011, a man from Singapore walked into the central police station of Rovaniemi, Finland, a town that sits along the Arctic Circle. The man told officers that another Singaporean, Wilson Raj Perumal, was in Rovaniemi on a false passport. He offered no other information before leaving the station abruptly.
Though puzzled by the seemingly random tip, Rovaniemi police put Perumal under surveillance. Three days later, they followed him to a French restaurant near the soccer stadium, where the local club, Rovaniemen Palloseura, had just completed a 1-1 draw. Officers watched as Perumal sat down with three Palloseura players. They saw him scold the players, who cowered in fear. The next day, based on the false passport, the Finnish police detained Perumal. They phoned officials at the Finland Football Federation, who in turn contacted FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
One week later, Chris Eaton, FIFA's head of security, arrived in Rovaniemi. He knew exactly who Perumal was. Eaton informed Finnish investigators that they had just caught the world's most prolific criminal fixer of soccer matches, an elusive figure whom Eaton had been chasing for the past six months.
Perumal had rigged hundreds of games across five continents, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent gambling winnings for Asian and European syndicates. He was finally in custody. And he had been turned in by one of his own.
THE WORLD'S MOST popular game is also its most corrupt, with investigations into match fixing ongoing in more than 25 countries.