The Ministry of Public Security has dropped criminal charges against one of six Dong Nai soccer players arrested last year over allegations of manipulating the result of a 2014 V.League match.
Former defender Phan Luu The Son, 24, has been cleared from gambling accusations, according to Major General Ho Sy Tien.
On July 22, 2014, police arrested Dong Nai’s captain Pham Huu Phat and five other players, including Son, on suspicion of match-fixing.
Son was not detained during investigation. The other five have been held since.
According to investigators, Phat got the other five involved in fixing their away match against Quang Ninh on July 20, which Dong Nai lost 5-3.
Tran Van Ba, the bookmaker that Phat contacted, and four of his accomplices also face charges of organizing gambling activities.
The Asian Football Confederation later suspended the players following similar action from Vietnam Football Federation (VFF).
VFF issued a life ban against the six players in April.
Police said Son's violation was the least serious.
“Son did not discuss with others from the beginning. He only knew about it on the field and agreed to join,” Tien said.
Police are still investigating the other five players.
Speaking to the media, Son said he wanted to play again and hoped that VFF would rethink the lifetime ban.
Nguyen Hai Huong, head of VFF Discipline Committee, said it would be difficult for VFF to withdraw the decision since the appeal period has long passed.
Gambling is illegal in Vietnam and punishable by jail terms ranging from two to seven years if the bet money is VND50 million or more.
But despite the ban, betting on soccer, the country’s most popular sport, is rampant in Vietnam.
Match-fixing is also rife, with many bookmakers and players arrested over the years.
On August 25, 2014, Vissai Ninh Binh defender Tran Manh Dung got 30 months in jail for match-fixing.
Eight other players from the northern club received suspended sentences for betting on their Asian Football Confederation Cup match against Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18, 2014.