Tue, Jul 13, 2010
The New Paper
Teacher in $130,000 debt over World Cup bets

HE was thrilled when Germany beat Australia 4-0 in the Group Stage match at the World Cup last month.

In just under two hours, the first-time bettor made $6,000 - the equivalent of two months' salary for the secondary school teacher.

But by the time Brazil suffered a quarter-final defeat by Holland, John's thrill had turned into shock and fear.

He had chalked up nearly $130,000 losses in bets with three different illegal bookmakers.

The only way for him to pay off his debts was to sell his car.

He started with "small bets between $2,000 and $4,000" for the first two matches, but upped the stakes to as high as $10,000 for each bet.

At his request, we are not using his real name as he risks losing his job.

In the hour-long interview with The New Paper on Sunday earlier this week, John, 28, who has been teaching for two years, pleaded repeatedly: "Please, please don't name the school too.

"I can't afford to lose my job now - my future will be gone."

While he has "deeply regretted" his folly, he admitted: "I realise it's too late."

He added: "I was blinded by greed."

Only his girlfriend, a 26-year-old primary school teacher, knows about his debts.

John said: "I've already let my parents down - I can't hurt them further."

It was his cousin who had introduced him to football betting, he claimed.

John follows the English Premier League and the European Championships.

But he had never placed any bets on the matches, even legally, until last month, when his cousin bragged about how much money he had made in the World Cup four years ago.

John said: "I was tempted, especially since my girlfriend and I were planning to get married next year. My cousin said it was a golden chance for me to make extra cash."

He added: "If not for him, I wouldn't be in this mess."

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