Hong Kong’s soccer world has been roiled by a fresh scandal as a match-fixing probe has led to the arrest of five players and officials from local Premier League teams.
On Wednesday, officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested five people on suspicions of match-rigging.
The anti-graft agency didn’t give details, but reports suggest that a majority of the arrested were from the Pegasus football club.
The players and officials were suspected to have been involved in fixing matches during last season’s Reserve Division League.
Among those believed to be in the dock is a person who had won an honor in the past in a Hong Kong Top Footballers Awards event, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Another of the arrested footballers was a young forward player who had recently enrolled in the disciplined services, it said.
The ICAC refused to comment on the case, while Pegasus FC manager Man Pei-tak claimed that he has no knowledge of any arrests.
Canny Leung, chairperson of Pegasus FC, said in a Facebook post from London that the reports have come as a shock and that she will soon head back to Hong Kong to look into the matter.
Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) board director Pui Kwan-kay said he can’t vouch for the veracity of the media reports. But he admitted that the rumors have dented the reputation of Hong Kong football.
If some players have indeed been fixing matches, they should be investigated by the ICAC to protect the integrity of the sport, Pui said.
Anyone found guilty will face punishment from the HKFA, in terms of being barred from matches for a suitable amount of time, he added.
Pui told Apple Daily that football players should have a sense of self-respect and uphold the principle of fairness of the game.
He urged football clubs to tighten their grip in terms of disciplinary actions on players.
Wednesday’s arrests marked a new scandal in Hong Kong’s football world after some unfortunate incidents in previous years.
In 2014, some players from Happy Valley AA were detained for match-fixing and the club suspended for the season.
In November 2013, Croatian footballer Saša Mus, who had been playing for Happy Valley, was found guilty of colluding with his side’s sponsor and a deputy manager to rig a match.
Mus was sentenced to jail for 12 months.
Happy Valley AA’s former deputy manager Hinson Leung was penalized for laying illegal wagers on their own league games.
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