Thorough probes to clear soccer match-fixing scandal
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.