12 arrested in Thailand in soccer match-fixing investigation

AP
Police reported that four players from the Navy club and one from Nakhon Ratchasima were allegedly paid up to 200,000 Thai baht (US$6,100) to manipulate results.
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Football Association of Thailand president Somyot Poompanmuang gives a traditional Thai greeting at a press conference in Bangkok on November 21, 2017. Somyot said five players and two match officials from the top-flight national league were arrested for match-fixing.

Football Association of Thailand president Somyot Poompanmuang says five players and two match officials from the top-flight national league are among 12 people arrested for alleged match-fixing.

Somyot held a news conference in Bangkok on Tuesday with national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda to announce an investigation was under way into the results of a match in July and three matches in September.

Police reported that four players from the Navy club and one from Nakhon Ratchasima were allegedly paid up to 200,000 Thai baht (US$6,100) to manipulate results.

The FAT and Royal Thai Police used information from data services company Sportradar as part of the investigation after reports of an unusual number of goals being scored in the late stages of the games.

"Match-fixing has been committed for a long time," Somyot said during the news conference at the Royal Thai Police headquarters. "It's time we eradicate this wrongdoing which is like a bad disease of our body that needs to be cured."

Chakthip said 12 people had been released on bail. Court details were not immediately available.

"I have to give big credit to the Royal Thai Police for their work or otherwise we will see the fall of Thai football if match-fixing is not tackled," Somyot said.

Chakthip said the alleged fixing was coordinated through a network comprising players, two referees, a club official and domestic and international investors.

He said the match and club officials can face up to 10 years in prison and fines if found guilty of match-fixing, and players could face up to five years in jail and fines.

Thai league football was once notorious for match-fixing linked to gambling between mega-rich club owners and overseas betting syndicates that riddle Southeast Asian sport.

But in recent years the league has professionalized, with rising TV income and match-day receipts boosting the profile of the domestic game while foreign players have raised the standard on the pitch.

Thais are football-mad and the boss of the FAT, a former police chief, vowed to clean up the sport when he took office.

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