Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency has arrested 23 people including a coach and 11 players from one football team in its biggest crackdown on match-fixing in recent years.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption on Tuesday said first division matches in the 2022-23 season were involved, with one team allegedly receiving bribes to manipulate results for bookmaking and also gaining by betting through illegal football gambling.
The case, which originated from a complaint about alleged bribery, involved 22 men and a woman, aged between 25 and 36, Principal Investigator Kate Cheuk Chi-yan said.
The suspects included half of the team in question and also those who were believed to be the backbone members of a bookmaking syndicate including the mastermind, she added.
“This operation originated from a complaint targeting a specific player, but after a series of investigations, intelligence gathering and fact-finding by the ICAC, we later found half of this team’s members were part of the match-fixing,” Cheuk said, declining to name the football side involved.
“This situation is very worrying and heartbreaking.”
She said each of the suspects from the team received up to HK$10,000 (US$1,275) as a reward, depending on their efforts to meet the objective of losing a match. She said some of these suspects also gained by illegal betting. The suspects were arrested on Monday.
As the syndicate could predict the results of games, they placed bets on gambling websites or with bookmakers to make money. (SCMP)