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Friday, May 31, 2013

Khairy warns bookies: We know who you are

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tells football bookies that he knows those behind the football betting syndicates.
PUTRAJAYA: Khairy Jamaluddin has issued a stern warning to football bookies over increasing match fixing incidents in local football.
The newly-appointed Youth and Sports Minister was responding to increasing reports on the match-fixing problem that has plagued Malaysian football.
“I know who they are and they also know that I am aware of them and their activities,” Khairy told FMT in an exclusive interview.
“We are also watching the players closely and have increased surveillance across the board,” he added.
Khairy assured his ministry would work closely with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to tackle the issue.
“I had a meeting last week with FAM’s (Football Association of Malaysia) integrity committee. It saw high level participation of the police and MACC to discuss challenges in local football,” he said.
“We realised that the bookies are targeting young players which makes it even more dangerous,” he added.
Khairy explained that younger players were easier to buy over as they were not paid as much as senior players, so “temptation is greater” when presented with sums of money to cheat.
“The problem we are facing now is lack of evidence,” Khairy admitted.
“People are not willing to come forward with concrete evidence so we can pursue a case,” he added.
Khairy said he understood the “public with evidence” were “concerned with their safety” as “bookies are known to roughen people up”. However, he assured there is adequate protection accorded under the Witness Protection Act 2009.
Creating awareness
He also pledged to spread awareness that match-fixing in any sport is a crime.
“We must make the players realise this is a crime and educate them on things like the Whistleblower’s Protection,” he said.
Khairy then revealed that his ministry had a list of suspects as briefed by the police and MACC.
“We will put these bookies on notice that we take seriously of what they are doing.”
Malaysia has had a long history of match-fixing issues with referees and players being routinely punished.
Last week, FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah assured the public that his association would look into allegations of match-fixing “seriously”
Ahmad Shah said that Malaysia-based players, on much lower salaries than their European counterparts, needed police protection to avoid match-fixing circles.
“The police need keep a close eye regarding the threats. The players must not get close to the bookies. Once you open up, you will have to face the consequences,” he was quoted as saying.
The suspicious match between Kuala Lumpur and Sime Darby in the second tier Malaysian Premier League recently had even attracted international attention, and had compelled Reuters to publish a story on match-fixing in Malaysian football.

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