Players, refs, sponsors implicated in match-fixing

Players, refs, sponsors implicated in match-fixing

Indictments sought for Thai Premier Leaguers

Prosecutors have been requested for indictments for 15 men including top-flight footballers, referees and a club director on suspicion of match-fixing in the domestic league.

Led by national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda and his assistant, Pol Lt Gen Manu Mekmok, a team of 10 officers turned up at the Office of the Attorney-General Tuesday to submit a 3,000-page investigation report to prosecutors.

Police said they decided to seek indictments against the men in connection with irregularities that occurred in Thai League T1 from July to September last year.

Another man believed to be connected with the case has not been charged, they said.

The latest suspects include referee Phumarin Kamruen and linesman Teerachit Sithisuk.

Eight of the 15 are either current or former players. They are Suthipong Laoporn, Narong Wongthongkham, Suwithaya Namsinlak and Seksan Chaowangthonglang from Navy; Sgt Theerachai Ngamcharoen and Thossapon Kamengkit from Si Sa Ket; Ekapan Jandakorn, a former Si Sa Ket player; and goalie Weera Kerdputsa from Nakhon Ratchasima.

Another five are believed to be financial sponsors who may have been involved in the match-fixing: Si Sa Ket team director Cherdsak Boonchu, Wallop Saman, Kittiphum Paphunga, Manit Komolwatana and Phakphum Pannikul.

All of the suspects reported to prosecutors Tuesday. The Department of Special Litigation 6, which is in handling the case, has ordered them to report to the office again on April 24.

Police carried out the probe after the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) lodged a complaint about suspected match-fixing in the Thai League, Pol Gen Chakthip said.

This is the first time police have concluded and forwarded the results of an investigation to prosecutors since the Professional Sports Promotion Act came into force in 2013.

Officers conducted the probe without fear of influence by more senior personnel, the police chief said, adding that club owners may not have known their players were cheating.

Pol Lt Gen Manu, who led the investigation, said the suspects have denied the allegations but described the report as "watertight".

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda (left) and aide Pol Lt Gen Manu Mekmok personally handed over the 3,000-page dossier alleging match-fixing in the Thai League T1 by players, referees and team sponsors. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Pornchai Chonwanichkul, deputy director-general of the Department of Criminal Litigation, said police and prosecutors teamed up to examine evidence, which pointed the finger at gamblers. They said they have uncovered most of the money trail in the case.

Prosecutors will look into the police report and, if it lacks weight, more probing will be done, Mr Pornchai noted.

If found guilty, the players and masterminds could be jailed for five years and/or fined between 200,000 and 500,000 baht. Referees face up to 10 years in jail, a fine of between 300,000 and 600,000 baht, or both.

Five top players, two referees, four investors and one club executive were accused in November of match-fixing.

The arrests marked the first serious crackdown on cheating in Thai football.

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