Vietnam footballers guilty of graft

Two former national players jailed and six others given suspended sentences.

    Vietnamese footballers and officials have been
    shown the red card for corruption [EPA]


    The eight had rigged a match between Vietnam and Myanmar during the South-East Asian Games in the Philippines in December 2005.
     
    Prosecutors say the players were paid by a local betting ring, whose leader remains at large, to ensure that their team won by only one goal in a match against Myanmar. Vietnam defeated Myanmar 1-0.
     

    Football is Vietnam's most
    popular sport [EPA]

    Midfielder Le Quoc Vuong was sentenced to six years in prison for "gambling and organised gambling" while Truong Tan Hai, a striker with the local Saigon Port club, was sentenced to three years in prison.
     
    Vietnamese football has seen a string of high-profile arrests in connection with bribery and gambling.
     
    Nearly two dozen referees, coaches and sports officials are facing criminal charges for various match-fixing incidents in the past year.
     
    Last year, Vietnam was rocked by a scandal when government officials were caught betting millions of dollars of embezzled funds on European football matches.
     
    Mohammed Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation president, had told Vietnamese football authorities "to do everything possible to tackle"
    corruption because it was "causing untold damage to Asian football".
     
    The country's football chiefs have vowed to prevent a "corruption storm" from ruining the sport by launching a "clean hands" campaign in 2005 which led to the prosecution of dozens of players and referees.
     
    Vietnam's football governing body said the punishment would help to clean up the league.
     
    Vu Quang Vinh, vice-president of the Vietnam Football Federation, said the sentences were appropriate.
     
    "It was a good lesson for everyone."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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