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Two English lower league players charged over match-fixing

LONDON (Reuters) - Two players from an English sixth tier semi-professional team have become the latest to be charged as part of an investigation into soccer match-fixing, British police said on Thursday.

Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, both 22 and from Whitehawk FC in Brighton, were charged with conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law and have been bailed to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court next Wednesday.

"They are the third and fourth people charged to date in connection with the National Crime Agency investigation into an alleged international illegal betting syndicate," a statement said.

Chann Sankaran, a 33-year-old Singapore national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year-old with dual UK and Singapore nationality, were charged last week and have been remanded in custody.

A Daily Telegraph report last month said the focus of the high-profile probe was the lower leagues, although one former Premier League player who is now an agent but still playing at a minor level, was implicated.

One of the alleged fixers said in a covertly recorded interview that he had "manipulated" World Cup matches, the Telegraph added.

The investigation is highly embarrassing for English soccer, which prides itself as the largely unsullied birthplace of the game.

Earlier this year, an inquiry by European police forces uncovered a global betting scam run from Singapore.

About 680 suspicious matches, including in the European Champions League and qualifying for the World Cup and European Championships, were identified in the investigation - although pundits said many of the games were already known about.

The last major match-fixing scandal in England occurred in the mid-1960s when 10 players were found guilty.

(This story has correction in the last paragraph removing reference to jailing)

(Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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