KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian football authorities have found an entire lower league team guilty of match-fixing in the latest scandal to blight the country's corruption-riven competitions.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) on Wednesday confirmed a report in the Star that said 17 players from Kuala Lumpur FA, competing in the country's third-tier FAM league, had been fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (SGD$1908) for match-fixing.
Another five players and three team officials from Kuala Lumpur were handed life bans and fined in December.
The 17 were given lighter punishment because they had been "victims of circumstance," the Star quoted FAM disciplinary committee chairman Taufek Abdul Razak as saying. "Our investigations revealed that the players had no option ... they were threatened with physical harm by the bookies," Taufek said. "The players have pleaded guilty and appealed for leniency. So, we decided to fine them because they fixed the matches under duress. "The players wanted to report to the authorities but feared for their safety. In fact, some of the players were beaten up for not following the orders of the bookies."
The Star said another five officials at the club, which has suffered back-to-back relegations from the top and second-tier leagues, were expected to be charged with match-fixing.
The paper did not say which games had been fixed.
FAM declined to comment further when contacted by Reuters on Wednesday.
Malaysia, like much of Southeast Asia, has fought a long battle with match-fixing in sport with poorly paid players and officials routinely punished for wrongdoing.