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Three English Soccer Stars Arrested as Scandal Looms

March 15, 1995|WILLIAM TUOHY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONDON — Three leading players in England's top soccer league were arrested Tuesday, along with two other persons, as part of an investigation into allegations that players took money to throw matches.

The allegations, if true, would constitute the worst scandal in British soccer history, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes over several years.

Arrested were star players Bruce Grobbelaar, goalkeeper for Southampton; Hans Segers, goalkeeper for Wimbledon, and John Fashanu, former Wimbledon striker now with Aston Villa, a top Birmingham club.

Police said they also had arrested Fashanu's girlfriend, Melissa Kassamapsi, and Malaysian businessman Heng Suan Lim.

"We are looking at a linking," a police spokesman said of the separate arrests. But police gave no more information, reporting merely that those apprehended were being questioned.

Grobbelaar was first questioned last November after the Sun newspaper printed charges that he had accepted bribes to allow goals in games he played for the Southampton and Liverpool teams.

At the time, Chris Vincent, a former business partner of Grobbelaar, said the money was supplied by businessmen in Malaysia, whose syndicates bet millions of dollars in Southeast Asia on the games in the English league. Millions more are bet in Britain.

The Football Assn. announced that it would investigate the charges, accusing Grobbelaar of bringing the game into disrepute. But later it decided to await the results of the police inquiry.

Grobbelaar, 37, who also plays on the national team of Zimbabwe, and the Dutch-born Segers, 33, were arrested at their homes in southern Hampshire County just after dawn. Fashanu, 31, was picked up in Birmingham and taken to Hampshire.

Investigating officers carried several boxes of documents from the homes of those arrested.

The Sun reported that it had received videos, interviews and photographs purporting to show Grobbelaar receiving cash bribes.

Grobbelaar has denied the accusations.

The colorful Grobbelaar is sometimes described as Britain's "most successful goalkeeper."

Fashanu is also one of Britain's highest-profile players. He is the host of a popular weekly television show called "Gladiators."

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