National investigators in Vietnam have requested the bank account numbers of the national team’s defenders as part of a wider probe into its disastrous 4-2 loss to Malaysia in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 semi-final.
“An official from the Ministry of Public Security's criminal police department (C45) has asked the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to provide identifying information and bank account numbers of all the defenders on the team on Friday morning,” a VFF official, who wished to remain anonymous, told Thanh Nien.
“Before the AFF Cup 2014 started, C45 gathered the players' mobile phone numbers. This time, they requested the financial information for several players who came under scrutiny [after the loss to Malaysia],” he said.
C45’s new investigation was requested by VFF chairman Le Hung Dung who called the team’s defeat at My Dinh Stadium "incomprehensible” on Thursday evening.
“I don’t know what happened, and perhaps neither does [Japanese coach Toshiya]
Miura. The defense was to blame for all four goals. Were they really that bad?" Dung told Thanh Nien after the match, citing the team's impressive performance in the first leg of the game in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, where Vietnam beat host Malaysia 2-1.
While everything is possible in football, the "incomprehensible mistakes and weaknesses" raised suspicion in the audience and shattered their trust in the national football team, which let down its 50,000-strong stadium audience as well as the millions of fans watching from home.
Their poor performance handed Malaysia four goals in the first half, including a crushing point lost when defender Tien Thanh shot the ball into his own goal.
Dung said that Miura, who started to lead the team in May, will keep his job.
After the loss, Miura said he could not account for why his players' performance had gone that awry. The coach said he was fully responsible for the failure and apologized to his Vietnamese fans.
The ASEAN Footbal Federation said in a statement Friday that Sportradar, a partner it contracted to secure the unparalleled coverage and analysis of the global betting markets offered on all 18 matches at the AFF Cup, did not "observe any suspicious betting patterns in any of the pre-match or live betting markets".
"In fact, a moderate betting confidence was witnessed for Vietnam to win the match in the pre-match markets, however this betting is not strong enough to raise any integrity concerns. There are no signs in any of the betting markets to indicate that these incidents are suspicious," the statement said.
"Although Malaysia recorded a surprising victory to advance to the final, the Security Services can find no betting evidence to suggest that this match was targeted for manipulation."
Vietnam has suffered a series of match-fixing scandals, both at international tournaments and its local V-league.
Though football betting and other forms of gambling are illegal, many still place wagers online with networks based inside the country or in Hong Kong, Macau and other cities.
In August, Tran Manh Dung, a defender on the Ninh Binh V-league team was sentenced to 30 months in jail for match fixing.
A month earlier, the VFF Disciplinary Committee temporarily prohibited six players from taking part in any kind of football-related activity following a national investigation into match fixing.
In 2007 two Vietnamese footballers were jailed and six others were given suspended sentences for rigging an Under-23 match against Myanmar at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in return for cash from a betting syndicate.