A former bookie yesterday claimed he had suspectedfootball players could be throwing matches as bookies began giving oddson the games last year. The ex-bookie, who wanted to be identified as Lau, said bookies werewarned off giving "hang cheng" (handicapped odds) on local footballmatches in the mid 1990s, following the crackdown on match fixing bypolice and the Anti-Corruption Agency.
"Today (yesterday), I read in the newspapers that several players havebeen detained for match fixing and several more are being investigated. "I believe the numbers should be a lot higher than that, and that thereshould also be players from other teams besides Sarawak and Police. "I saw it coming a while back as I had noticed, since last year, thatlocal league matches and cup ties had been offered by the bookiestogether with the usual English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, ItalianSerie A, German Bundesliga and some others," said the businessman, in his50s.
He said the present situation was a little different from when he wasinvolved in illegal betting years ago, as the use of the Internet nowplayed a major role. "There is hardly any use of a `555' notebook anymore as most puntersrely on their notebook computers to access their betting accounts. "That means bookies no longer need to frequent coffeeshops or otherwatering holes to do business. "And I am not just talking about illegal betting accounts with illegalbookies as local soccer is now good enough to be offered betting odds byregistered or licensed international bookmakers."
Lau said recent checks on one of the betting websites owned by acompany, regulated and licensed by the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom,revealed handicapped odds being offered on the Malaysian FA Cupquarter-final matches. Meanwhile, Terengganu Football Association vice-president Shaikh AhmadTajuddin Shaikh Yusoff said enough irregularities in team performancesand results were found in almost every team competing in local leagues in the past few years to warrant investigation.
"But finding proof of match fixing was difficult. "The most we, in management and administration, could do to thesuspected players was to slap them with fines or suspension ontechnicalities or disciplinary grounds. "Then again, when it comes to match-fixing, we cannot just pointfingers at the players as the match officials could be on the take tomake decisions in favour of one team. "But without proof, all we can do is speculate," he said.
Shaikh Tajuddin said if some big clubs in European leagues andinternational players who earn big money could be found guilty ofmatch-fixing, it should not be difficult to think that local playerscould also succumb to temptation. "The key here is not to dangle a carrot in front of a horse. The bestway to avoid such circumstances in this case is by teaching players andmatch officials about the perils of match-fixing or better yet, bycompletely removing betting elements from the local games," he said.
By Christopher Raj; Alang Bendahara; Dennis Wong; Suganthi Suparmaniam
Published by NST : 26th April 2008