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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Players cleared in Crown affair

Crown players celebrate with the Metfone C-League trophy after a penalty shootout win over NagaWorld on December 12.
Crown players celebrate with the Metfone C-League trophy after a penalty shootout win over NagaWorld on December 12. Sreng Meng Srun

Players cleared in Crown affair

Phnom Penh Crown youth coach Bouy Dary has been banned for two years and three other coaches given one-year bans after a probe into accusations of match-fixing at the club.

All seven accused players have been exonerated of any wrongdoing. The Disciplinary Committee of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) acted on the findings and recommendations of an interim panel probing six-time champions Crown’s indefinite suspensions in early November of seven players and four officials for allegedly conspiring to influence the outcome of several matches during the last league season.

Other officials facing a one-year ban are Nguon Chansothea, Ser Syna and Tes Sophat. The committee could not find enough material proof that the seven players – Yok Ari, Thong Da, Sary Matnorotin, Toch Sok Heng, Ngoy Srin, Sos Souhana and San Usaphea – played an active role in the alleged affair.

According to an FFC source familiar with the deliberations of the committee, the audio recordings provided by the club as key evidence had thrown light on incriminating conversations among the four officials regarding attempts to orchestrate “below par" performances so as to tarnish the image of the club and to undermine the record of then-head coach Sam Schweingruber.

In the intervening months, Schweingruber met with a motorcycle accident in Phnom Penh in which he was seriously injured. After treatment in Bangkok, he returned to his native Switzerland to recuperate. He has since returned to Phnom Penh after his rehabilitation, according to the club’s Facebook page.

Crown has brought in 29-year old Spaniard Oriol Mohedano as the head coach on a one-year contract ahead of the new league season and Hun Sen Cup campaigns.

Since the verdict was made public last week, Crown lodged an appeal against the decision, expressing its displeasure that the players were exonerated of all charges.

At press time, none of the four officials facing punishment had chosen to appeal.

Crown general secretary Ly Heang said: “We submitted an appeal against the decision of the FFC Disciplinary Committee on a number of points, within the appropriate time frame. We are waiting to hear from the committee in order to attend an appeal hearing.”

Meanwhile, the country’s second-most sought-after piece of silverware after the league, the prestigious Hun Sen Cup, is on the horizon with the first phase of the competition involving provincial group tussles beginning on February 17. The group winners will enter the cup proper.

For the first time since its inception in 2007, the provincial group matches will now be decided on a double-leg home and away basis, with all the group winners making it to the knockout phase.

Second tier in the offing

The Federation has decided to introduce a second tier Division II from this season to create a competitive platform for teams outside the Metfone C-League.

The first Division II season will be made up of the winners of respective groups in the provincial contests to begin at a date to be announced shortly

“We are starting with six teams and will possibly expand it gradually. The idea of creating this second tier is to encourage teams from provinces to get into the league network,” FFC Spokesman May Tola told the Post yesterday.

C-League splash

The much-talked about Metfone C-League season, which kicks off next Friday, is set for a splash of wider live television coverage, enhanced prize money, bigger attendances, a stronger foreign component and a higher intensity of competition.

Last year set an all-time high for crowd attendances following Cambodia’s unprecedented entry to the second phase of the World Cup qualifying cycle, and the federation is hoping for a positive effect on the ensuing league season.

Unlike previous years, matches will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with local channel Bayon TV adding more live matches to its programming.

The 2015 season was arguably the longest ever, with the four-team playoffs following the league phase stretching into double-leg affairs.

The most striking change this term is the scrapping of the playoffs, meaning glory goes to the league winners.

Four foreign players will be allowed on the pitch out of five eligible registrations, but one of the active players should be from the Asian Football Confederation region.

Meanwhile, the season may bring success of a different kind for ticket-buying supporters.

The federation is to hold a grand raffle at the end of the season where the ticket stub drawn will win the lucky owner a car. There are also several other attractive prizes to be won.

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