Vietnam police expand probe against corrupt V-League footballers

By Lan Phuong, Thanh Nien News

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Dong Nai's defender Huu Phat allegedly got five other involved in match-fixing. Photo: Do Hai Dong Nai's defender Huu Phat allegedly got five other involved in match-fixing. Photo: Do Hai

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The Ministry of Public Security have pledged to expand its investigation into V-League matches after at least nine footballers from two clubs were detained this year on gambling charges.
“We are collecting evidence to thoroughly handle the Dong Nai footballers and investigate if other clubs engaged in match-fixing,” said Major General Ho Si Tien, director of the ministry's investigative department.
A member of the V-League organizing committee, who asked to remain anonymous, also confirmed to Thanh Nien News that police have asked them to relinquish documents related to a number of V-League matches held in the 2014 season.
“Based on the confessions of footballers involved in match-fixing [at Dong Nai Club], irregularities have been found in V-League matches held during the World Cup,” he said, noting that 41 goals were scored in six matches during that period.
On Tuesday, police arrested six Dong Nai players for allegedly manipulating a match against Quang Ninh Coal at Cam Pha Stadium on July 20.
The arrestees included Huu Phat, Long Giang, Duc Thien, Ha Niem Tien, The Son and Kien Trung.
The players were suspected of betting on the match during which Dong Nai lost 5-3 to Quang Ninh Coal despite the fact that they had scored the first goal.
Police say the players won VND400 million ($19,200) in total from betting on the point spread.
Maj. Gen Tien said that some of the players may be additionally charged with "bribery" and "receiving bribes".
Tien said the players had connections with a gambling ring based in Dong Nai’s Bien Hoa Town and have allegedly fixed the results of many other matches. He did not elaborate the other matches, noting that their investigation remains unerway.
After the Dong Nai – Quang Ninh Coal match ended on July 20, police arrested four suspected members  of the gambling ring.
Match-fixing based on a match's point spread allows a small group of players on a single team to manipulate the results without enlisting help from the rival team.
Le Hung Dung, chairman of the Vietnam Football Federation told the media that the investigation represented a cooperative "cleansing" of the domestic football world being jointly-conducted by the federation and the police.
The Dong Nai – Quang Ninh Coal match represented the V-League's 21st round this year; Dong Nai ranked 7th in the league and had already secured a slot at the next season with 22 points. The club will face Da Nang, Quang Nam and Dong Tam Long An in the upcoming rounds.
This is the second betting scandal to rock the V-League this year.
In May, police arrested three Vissai Ninh Binh players and opened investigations against six others for allegedly betting on an Asian Football Council match against Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18.
Vissai Ninh Binh defeated Kelantan 3-2 and the players won VND800 million in total.
Dao Duc Loi, a bookie from Hai Phong, was arrested for taking their bets, police said.
On July 22, Vissai Ninh Binh asked that judicial agencies issue lenient sentences against the players whom they pledged to ban for life.
The trial is slated to open next month, according to Le Chi Vinh, head judge of Ninh Binh People’s Court.

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