Match-fixing practice still rampant in Southeast Asia

Match-fixing practice still rampant in Southeast Asia
A Singaporean who was among four charged with attempting to fix a South-east Asian (SEA) Games football match last month between Timor Leste and Malaysia was denied bail yesterday.

MALAYSIA - You go to a game, expecting it to be an entertaining affair but somebody from the back says this, "This game is going to end 2-1,"

The next thing you know, the game ends at 2-1. This happened in my hometown and I didn't want to believe it all. I thought he was just placing a bet but he had his earphones on and gave live updates. And he even said, "I paid player number 23 and he will do the job for us,"

Shocked but I couldn't do anything! The next day, I met a player and he told me it's common in Malaysian football. The experienced centre-back, who used to play for the national team said many fixers have tried to pay him but because of his religious beliefs, he avoids them.

But he had something to tell us…

"Fixers will bravely come to you and ask you to fix the match. Some of them have agents in the stadium during a match.

"If the stadium is not full, In four corners of the stadium, you will see four different man with earphones on, wearing four different caps. If the game is packed, then they will meet the players personally and fix it.

"These are international syndicates, who want to help betting syndicates around the world. The target our leagues because it's not popular and they know the stadiums are not full all the time," said the player who has since retired from the game.

Sadly match-fixing has constantly raised its ugly head in Malaysian football. It reached a peak in the mid 1990s when a whole slew of talented players were exiled from the game.

Recently, 17 players from Kuala Lumpur's 2013 Premier League side were fined RM5,000 each by the FAM disciplinary committee.

On December 2013, FAM imposed life bans on five KL players and three team officials, including a kitman, for match-fixing. The eight were also fined RM20,000 each.

Has it stopped?

The Star Online spoke to players, a coach and an investigative journalist, who have encountered such situations and they gave their take on match-fixing, which is rampant in Asia. According to these sources, Malaysia and Singapore are still severely affected by it.

"It has been rampant for many years in Malaysian football. Everyone knows that, few people will say it publicly," said Investigative Journalist Declan Hill who wrote a book on match-fixing titled The Fix: Organised Crime and Football.

According to former Kelantan and Johor coach Steve Darby, the match-fixing scene in South East Asia is massive and he has reported so many cases but never got a reply from the bodies.

"Firstly Asia is massive! An anecdotal evidence would suggest it is an ongoing problem and I think it goes in cycles and we are in a heavy cycle due to the profit margins and the use of internet gambling.

"The problem is "proof". There are games I know that have been fixed but cannot legally prove it. I have also reported fixes to governing bodies but never got a reply," said Darby, who is now the assistant coach for Mumbai FC in the Indian Super League which starts next month.

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