Sumo panel concedes match-fixing deep-rooted


The Japan Sumo Association’s special investigation panel on match-fixing says it can’t deny that bout-rigging took place in the past and thinks there were likely more people involved than the 25 who have so far punished.

The sport’s ruling body had fully denied match-fixing took place before the case that broke on Feb. 2 led to the firings or forced retirements of 25 coaches and wrestlers.

“We did everything we could, but we didn’t uncover every stone and there’s still a lot we don’t know about,” said Waseda University professor Shigeru Ito, chairman of the panel that submitted its final report to the association on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s possible that no one outside the 25 wasn’t involved. Just as FIFA (soccer’s international governing body) spent a lot of money to fight a case like this, there is always the risk of fixing in sports.”

The panel only had minimal amounts of hard evidence, forcing it to rely on text messages and the testimony of wrestlers. Many of the accused complained, saying the investigation was unfair and baseless.

“No human beings could have done more than we did,” said panel member and attorney Yasushi Murakami. “But God, who can see through all, may have a different take on the matter.”