Players implicated in Tien Giang match fixing scandal

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Arrests last week's of four people involved in a football betting scheme in Tien Giang Province could open a can of worms.

Ho Truc Giang, Le Chi Cuong, Huong Van Thanh and Dang Thien Banh were arrested after the police found that the four were involved in an attempt to illegally detain a man called Ly Hoang Phuong.

According to the police, 25- year-old Phuong lost a bet in June and supposedly owed 21- year-old Giang more than VND250 million (US$13,100).

Since Phuong didn't have the money, he left his house in the province's My Tho Town and hid in Cho Gao District.

But Giang found Phuong after a week.

Giang, who had his contract terminated by the second-tier First Division club Tien Giang at the end of the first half of this football season, told the police that on July 26 he offered Cuong, (AKA Dung Soi,) a five percent commission if the latter could force Phuong to pay the money he lost.

According to Giang, Dung Soi approached Nguyen Phu Hien, an infamous My Tho gangster, for help.

The trio hatched a plan then on July 27 he and Dung Soi found their way to Phuong's hideout in Cho Gao District.

Giang told the police that he and Dung Soi took Phuong to a coffee shop in Long An Province's Ben Luc District and threatened him, saying they would take him to Cambodia to work as a chicken farmer.

Phuong said he would agree in writing, to pay the debt in three months, Giang said. Giang then told Hien to contact Phuong's family and get his ID card.

However, on the way to Tien Giang Province's Go Cong District, Giang was informed by Hien that the police already knew about the case because two other men in their group, Huong Van Thanh and Dang

Thien Banh, were caught while receiving Phuong's ID card from his family.

Giang told the police that on learning this, he and Dung Soi took Phuong to Go Cong District, asked him to write an IOU with his signature and thumb impression, and let him go.

According to the police, Giang is the ringleader in an illegal football betting scheme in Tien Giang that has links with other provinces and Ho Chi Minh City.

Investigators have found a telephone number beginning with 095 from which an SMS was sent to some of Tien Giang's best players suggesting the fixing of a third-round match between Tien Giang and TDC Binh Duong in First Division.

The police have said that some players are involved in the scheme. However, since Tien Giang has three more games to play, they will "decode" the SMS after the team"˜s final game.

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