Malaysia’s football association has fined 17 more players for match-fixing, in a widening scandal highlighting corruption in the country’s leagues.
In December, five members of Kuala Lumpur’s squad and three officials were fined and banned for life in the scandal, but the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) were lenient with their teammates, letting 17 of them off with mere fines, saying they were threatened by bookies to cheat.
“Our investigations revealed that the players had no option. They were threatened with physical harm by the bookies,” FAM disciplinary committee chairman Taufek Abdul Razak was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying.
“The players wanted to report to the authorities but feared for their safety. In fact, some of the players were beaten up,” he added.
The players were fined 5,000 ringgit (£922) each.
Taufek added at least five Kuala Lumpur Football Association officials were expected to be charged soon with match-fixing over a deal signed in late 2012 with a sponsor who “was allowed to dictate the performance of the team”.
After a poor season the Kuala Lumpur team have been relegated to the third-tier FAM Cup competition this season.
Match fixing in Malaysia is hardly a hew phenomenon. Indeed, so endemic has it become that it is a wonder that anyone trusts the integrity of the matches enough to risk placing a bet on them.
In 2012, FAM suspended 18 youth players and banned a coach for life for fixing matches.
During a crisis in 1994, 21 players and coaches were sacked, 58 players were suspended and 126 players questioned over corruption.