Vietnam trains spy network on players at AFF Suzuki Cup

By Lan Phuong, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnamese footballers in a practice session ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup. Photo: Kha Hoa Vietnamese footballers in a practice session ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup. Photo: Kha Hoa

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Vietnam's police and the Vietnam Football Federation have teamed up to tackle match-fixing and gambling at the ASEAN Football Federation’s Suzuki Cup that will kick off in Vietnam and Singapore tomorrow (November 22).
“We have agreed on a detailed plan to avoid these problems at the tournament,” said Major General Ho Si Tien, director of the Crime Branch Police under the Ministry of Public Security.
According to the plan, Tien’s agency will assign an officer to follow the national team during the whole tournament to “closely monitor any changes to avoid possible problems.”
Local police departments have also been instructed to assign units to prevent gambling.
“Local police will strictly monitor public places that broadcast the matches live, cafés for example, to detect gambling,” he said.
Tien said his agency has also coordinated with international agencies like Interpol and police in related countries to assign teams to the event.
In a recent talk with the players, Mai Duc Chung, head of Vietnam Football Team’s delegation to the event said he supplied his players' personal phone numbers to the police.
“This move is designed to protect the players," he said. "It will also help the police monitor the team better."
A VFF source said the police have set up a list of players who will face strict supervision and that there plain clothes police will monitor all contact between Vietnamese players and strangers.
A Vietnamese player, who asked to remain anonymous, says he's not worried about the measures.
“The measures make us feel safe and allow us to focus more on the matches. The most frightening thing is the idea that we might play our best only to have the results spoiled by one person,” he said.
“I believe that the national team will play their hardest and decline to engage in match-fixing and gambling," the player said.
"The lesson from several recent criminal cases has been well-learned.”
Last week, the Asian Football Confederation said it would enforce the suspension of six Dong Nai FC players on the conference level, following sanctions issued by the Vietnamese Football Federation (VFF) Disciplinary Committee.
On July 23, 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.
The six players, including the team captain, were arrested after Dong Nai FC’s V-League loss to Than Quang Ninh FC on July 20 at the Cam Pha Stadium, Quang Ninh.
The suspended players, all of whom are Vietnamese nationals, were Pham Huu Phat, Nguyen Thanh Long Giang, Nguyen Duc Thien, Ha Niem Tien, Phan Luu The Son and Dinh Kien Trung.
In August, Ninh Binh sentenced Tran Manh Dung, a famed defender on its provincial football team, to 30 months in jail for match fixing.
Eight other players from the Vissai Ninh Binh Club walked out of court with suspended sentences for betting on their Asian Football Council match against Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18.

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