GENEVA (AP) — FIFA is investigating Zambian officials over allegations they allowed eight players banned for match-fixing in Finland to return to soccer without permission.
FIFA said Friday it opened a disciplinary case and invited the Football Association of Zambia to provide an explanation "together with any documentary evidence it might deem appropriate." FIFA said it believes at least four of the players — who were not identified — appeared in official matches in Zambia.
In 2011, nine Zambian players received suspended sentences of at least six months from courts in Finland.
Seven players from RoPS team in Rovaniemi and two from AC Oulu were linked to taking bribes from Singaporean fixer Wilson Raj Perumal to help Asian organized criminals arrange betting coups.
Perumal was arrested in Finland in February 2011 and jailed after a criminal trial.
He is co-operating with authorities in Hungary, and his evidence has been key to FIFA and law enforcement agencies piecing together the scope of match-fixing plots carried out by crime syndicates with Singapore connections.
FIFA and Interpol have urged governments to help fight match-fixing, as soccerl authorities have limited investigative powers and jurisdiction only over people within the sport.
The Finland FA banned the Zambian players through April 5, 2013, and FIFA extended those sanctions globally.
FIFA said Friday that Zambian's soccer federation took over eight players' registration from Finland without proper documents and while they were suspended.
Zambian federation President Kalusha Bwalya, a former playing great, is a member of the FIFA Football Committee and served in 2011-12 as deputy chairman to Franz Beckenbauer on FIFA's Task Force Football 2014.