February 17 – If there was any doubt that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) meant business when it said it was operating a zero tolerance policy on match-fixing, can be dispelled with the news that its Disciplinary Committee has issued life bans from football-related activities to 22 players and officials from Laos and Cambodia, one of the largest single group of suspensions related to one set of match-fixing instances.
The bans result from games played by the Laos national team and club side Lao Toyota FC. Of the 22 individuals banned, 15 are current or former Laos or Lao Toyota FC players.
While the detail of the investigation leading to the bans has not yet been released, the sheer number of individuals involved suggest a systematic and organised match-fixing ring.
Last November during the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia the AFC Disciplinary Committee stepped in and suspended four Laos players on suspicion of match-fixing. This was the first time that players have been suspended during a tournament for suspicion of match-fixing and an AFC statement said then and that investigation “is on-going and not limited to those players provisionally suspended.”
Laos have played two matches in Group B of the tournament beating Sir Lanka 2-1 on November 3, and losing to Macau 4-1 on November 6. Currently place third in the group Laos next face Mongolia tomorrow (November 9) in a match which if they win will put them through to the semi-finals.
This set of suspensions seems unlikely to be the end of the matter. The AFC said in a statement that the “investigation into the manipulation of matches involving the representative teams of the Lao Football Federation commenced in 2014 and remains ongoing. The investigation has been supported by Sportradar and the FIFA Integrity Unit. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, specific details including the relevant matches will not be disclosed.’
The AFC said it will request FIFA to extend the bans worldwide.
The banned individuals are: Vathana Keodouangdeth; Odien Syharlad; Sitthideth Khanthavong; Anousay Noyvong; Thenthong Phonsettha; Soulasack Vongsengdeuan; Vongdalasene Sayoulasouk; Paseuthsack Souliyavong; Xaisongkham Champathong; Khouanta Sivongthong; Maitee; Dao Khotsaya; Soubandit Thammavong; Phoutthakone Keovongsa; Soulixay Inthasene; Seny Sangsuvanh; Hang Sukonthea; Peas Sothy;Saynakhonevieng Phommapanya (provisionally suspended in November 2016); Chintana Souksavath (provisionally suspended in November 2016); Moukda Souksavath (provisionally suspended in November 2016); MPhatthana Syvilay (provisionally suspended in November 2016)
Of the 22 individuals, 15 are current or former Laos or Lao Toyota FC players.
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