- Kyriakos Stamatopoulos (“Everybody calls me Kenny”) is a former goalkeeper for Canada, AIK, and other clubs in Greece, Norway and Sweden
- He reported an approach to fix a match by a former teammate in 2018
- Kenny, now a goalkeeper coach at AIK, wants to convince players to report any match-fixing approach
“I was very close with a player named Dickson Etuhu. We were teammates for two years, roommates. We were very close friends around the pitch. Not off the pitch, as he had another lifestyle then I did. When he left the club he still stayed in contact and always wanted to know who was playing, who was injured et cetera. At the time, I thought he cared. But now I realise he was fishing around.
We had lunch together, a week before my final game. He brought a friend of his, which was surprising. Basically we talked, some chitchat. And then it came out: ‘You are at the end of your career. You haven’t made the millions of dollars that you should have to take care of your family. But there is an opportunity…’ And they pretty much said it straight up.
They offered 2 million Swedish krona, which is more than 200,000 USD. It’s a lot of money.
But it didn’t cross my mind to consider their offer. I cut the head of right away: no way!
I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do. I left the place, I called my wife, friends, family, to say ‘Guess what happened to me right now? What the heck’. It was such a bad experience. It was nerve wrecking. I had a funny feeling in my stomach, I was feeling paranoid.
The next day in training, my coach saw the stress in my face, he saw I wasn’t there mentally. He asked if everything was alright and I said ‘No, we need to talk’. I told him about what happened, but I didn’t want to tell him any names.
He then put me together with the head of security of the club, who said the same things to me: ‘We cannot do anything unless you tell us the names’. So I told the coach and he lost his head. He felt betrayed, as this guy was in our club house and so forth. He directly called the Swedish FA, and they decided to cancel the game.
The police interviewed every player, to ask if they had been approached too. They wanted to put their foot down and make a statement, as this was the first time that match-fixing came out at the highest level in Sweden.
My name was out there after a day or two., as somebody told media by accident that ‘it was a terrible event, that one of the goalkeepers got approached’.
I was very scared. I have a wife and kids. You don’t know with what kind of people you are dealing. You read a lot of stuff. I was more scared than anything for the fact that you never know.
The police did unbelievably well, but it gets you thinking when they tell you ‘We got you covered. We got police outside your kids’ school.’ Wow, is this really needed?’
I never heard from Dickson again. On the day the match was cancelled, he called me when I was talking with the police. They said ‘We recommend that you don’t pick it up right now’. The only time I saw Dickson was in court.”
In November 2019, the Court of Appeal in Stockholm sentenced Dickson Etuhu and another person for bribery, and ordered him to serve a period of probation.
“I felt it was worth it, it was good I spoke out. If he was not found guilty, then I would have felt that it was a waste of time. In fairness I don’t think his punishment was anything. But that his name was out there was his main punishment. His name was everywhere. It is a good way of showing that match-fixing is not very smart to do, because if you get caught, your name will be ruined.
Reporting is the right thing to do. Initially my dilemma was ‘not to say it’ or ‘to say it’. The process in my head was, if I don’t get my story out, then it could bite me in the ass in the end. If I don’t tell the truth from day one, and there is another angle to it down the line, then I would look suspicious for no reason.
I didn’t have the Red Button App back then. It would definitely have helped me. It is very easy to express yourself without being put in the spotlight. You can anonymously report any approach.
My advice to other players? One hundred percent to report any approach as quickly as possible. You are the victim. If you have an app like the Red Button App, then report.
I was naïve for not realising that match-fixing is a big problem. So unions should be helping players by going around and really addressing the problem, making clear what is happening in the dark side of football, so that players are not blindsided like I was, and making clear that players should go to the app. They have to mentally prepare them and present clear guidelines on how to react.”