Thor­ough probes to clear soc­cer match-fix­ing scan­dal

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Just when Tai­wanese soc­cer fans were anx­iously an­tic­i­pat­ing the up­com­ing in­ter­na­tional soc­cer games to kick off in June af­ter the na­tional squad for first time in 12 years ad­vanced to the sec­ond round of the Asian qual­i­fiers for the World Cup, shock­ing news was re­ported by a lo­cal mag­a­zine on Wed­nes­day.

Quot­ing uniden­ti­fied sources, the Chi­nese-lan­guage Next Mag­a­zine ac­cused Lin Cheng-yi ( ), the for­mer chair­man of Tai­wan’s Chi­nese Taipei Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CTFA, ), of al­legedly en­gag­ing in a match-fix­ing scan­dal.

The re­port said Lin has been en­gaged in il­le­gal un­der­ground sports bet­ting and placed huge bets on the re­sult of a game be­tween Tai­wan and Brunei on March 12.

Most bet­tors wa­gered that Tai­wan could win the game. Lin, how­ever, bet on Tai­wan los­ing the match, the re­port claimed. The na­tional team ul­ti­mately lost the matchup 0-1 in the first leg of the two-game se­ries at a Kaoh­si­ung sta­dium on March 12.

To make sure the out­come of the game fa­vored him, Lin asked Tai­wan’s coach­ing staff to bench nat­u­ral­ized player Chu En-le ( ), the re­port said, claim­ing Lin won over NT$40 mil­lion from the il­le­gal bet­ting.

The re­port fur­ther al­leged that pros­e­cu­tors are now prob­ing the case. Lin is cur­rently be­ing held in detention on a sep­a­rate case af­ter he was ac­cused of fraud. The CTFA is now headed by an act­ing chair­man.

De­spite the loss to Brunei on March 12, Tai­wan, play­ing un­der the name of Chi­nese Taipei, beat Team Brunei 2-0 in their sec­ond en­counter in the qual­i­fiers on March 17 and ad­vanced to the sec­ond-round qual­i­fiers.

In re­sponse to the ac­cu­sa­tion, the CTFA on Wed­nes­day strongly de­nied the al­le­ga­tion. In an emer­gency press con­fer­ence, Team Tai­wan’s head coach Chen Kuei-jen ( ) and sev­eral na­tional team mem­bers jointly de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion.

Chen clar­i­fied by say­ing that Lin had never in­ter­vened in his coach­ing or asked him to bench a player. He added that it was his de­ci­sion to bench Chu dur­ing that game be­cause Chu was suf­fer­ing from an­kle in­juries.

With tears in his eyes, Chen said he felt deep re­gret for the un­founded re­port that could mar the im­age of the na­tional team, which is now pre­par­ing for its next ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment.

The China Post is as un­happy as any­one in Tai­wan af­ter hear­ing of the re­port.

It would be com­pletely un­for­giv­able if the ex-CTFA chief is in­deed found guilty of match-fix­ing.

The news dealt a se­ri­ous blow to the na­tional team and Tai­wan soc­cer as a whole just when peo­ple are be­gin­ning to be­lieve that the sport, which has long been ig­nored and un­pop­u­lar in the na­tion, is en­ter­ing a new era with Tai­wan’s ad­vance to the sec­ond round.

Fac­ing such a se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tion, The China Post be­lieves that it is time for pros­e­cu­tors to thor­oughly probe the case to make sure the al­le­ga­tions lay upon Lin and the CTFA are gen­uine.

But as pointed out by sev­eral lo­cal soc­cer com­men­ta­tors, no one seems to have seen any signs of game-throw­ing dur­ing the March 12 match other than the fact that Chu did not par­tic­i­pate.

It is also highly un­likely that Lin could con­trol the win­ning or los­ing of a game sim­ply by ask­ing the coach­ing staff to bench one sin­gle player, as pointed out in the mag­a­zine.

We be­lieve that the mag­a­zine should have pro­vided more ev­i­dence be­fore point­ing the fin­ger at Lin and the na­tional soc­cer team.

We also en­cour­age the CTFA to sue the mag­a­zine to clear its name and pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tion of the na­tional team and its coaches and play­ers.

As noted by Chen, the re­port has al­ready marred the im­age of the whole team, which is ac­tively en­gaged in pre­par­ing for the up­com­ing sec­ond-round matchups.

For the devel­op­ment of soc­cer in Tai­wan, pros­e­cu­tors need to probe the case as soon as pos­si­ble and make public the re­sults for the long-term devel­op­ment of the sport in Tai­wan.

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