Two Cambodians, Peas Sothy and Hang Sukonthea, as well as 20 players and officials from Laos, have been banned from all football-related activities for life for match-fixing.
Details released by the Asian Football Confederation were scant, but the body said the action follows an investigation that started in 2014, and that it will seek to have the bans extended worldwide.
“The [AFC] Disciplinary Committee has issued a life ban from football-related activities to twenty-two individuals from Laos and Cambodia for involvement in the manipulation of matches involving the representative teams of Laos and the club side Lao Toyota FC,” an AFC statement said late on Wednesday.
“The AFC investigation into the manipulation of matches involving the representative teams of the Lao Football Federation commenced in 2014 and remains ongoing,” it added.
The Post could not reach officials from the Football Federation of Cambodia for comment by the time of going to press yesterday.
But according to Sarath Vichet, an assistant coach at National Police Commissary FC, where Sothy was head coach until the AFC action, the ban related to suspected international matches played outside the Kingdom when Sothy played for the Cambodian national team in the mid-2000s and were unconnected to the club.
Vichet told The Post yesterday that he did not know the exact matches but thought they would have been played during a period between 2004 and 2005.
“Now Mr Peas Sothy is on holiday for one week. But the ban is not related to any games with the National Police Commissary during his time here,” Vichet said.
Vichet said of the other banned Cambodian: “Sukonthea is also a former Cambodian international, who played for Ministry of National Defence, and was playing for Cambodia around 2006.”
Fifteen of those banned are current or former players of the Laos national side or Vientiane-based Lao Toyota FC, the AFC said.
Details of the games involved were not released, but four of the players had been provisionally suspended during the AFC Solidarity Cup involving Laos in November.
“[The players’] ongoing participation provided a direct threat to the integrity of the competition,” the AFC said at the time, adding that the suspensions also related to “suspected manipulation of multiple matches committed by the representative teams of Laos since 2010”.
Laos played three matches at the Solidarity Cup, beating Sri Lanka 2-1 and Mongolia 3-0, and losing 4-1 to Macau.The AFC added: “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 has a zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing and its regulations provide for tough sanctions for match manipulation.
“The decisions have been notified to the Lao Football Federation and the Football Federation of Cambodia. The AFC will request FIFA to extend the bans to have world-wide effect.”
Additional reporting by AFP