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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Match-fixing scandal brought shame to local football, says Hong Kong FA chairman

Match-fixing scandal brought shame to local football, says Hong Kong FA chairman

The chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association said on Wednesday that the recent match-fixing scandal had brought shame to local football, admitting it was difficult to monitor amateur leagues.
The comments came one day after twenty-three people, including a coach and 11 footballers from Hong Kong's first division, were arrested by officers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption on suspicion of match-fixing.

The ICAC said the suspects - including almost half of the first division club Happy Valley Athletic Association, one of the oldest clubs in Hong Kong - were seen to be core members of a bookmaking syndicate that also included its mastermind.

Players Ching Man-chun, Chan Ho-fung, Lui Man-tik, and Brian Fok Bun-yan and a club coach, Chiu Kok-chiu, were among those arrested, it is understood.

HKFA chairman Pui Kwan-kay, also the chairman of the Happy Valley Athletic Association, said on a radio program this morning that the lower football divisions in Hong Kong below the Hong Kong Premier League were of amateur levels.

He said it would be hard for the football association to monitor all the matches as they were played all around the city and that the association has to take care of the women’s league and youth leagues.

Even though the association had noticed unusual match results, there was not enough evidence for the association to investigate, said Pui, adding that law enforcement agencies should step in to intervene.

Meanwhile, the association chief said bookmakers tend to target matches in lower divisions as the top division was strictly monitored by international bodies following previous match-fixing cases.

When asked whether players of the lower divisions were prone to take payments for match-fixing as they earn much less than those playing in the top league, Pui said owners of the lower division clubs might not have that many resources and only those who wanted to push for promotion would offer better compensation package for the players.

He noted that the players were usually paid an allowance, as they were mostly part-time players with a full-time job, and that they mainly “play for fun.”

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