Kelong in SEA Games football?
The SEA Games football tournament has come under a kelong cloud.
Multiple matches of the Under-23 competition from May 29 to June 15 are alleged to have been rigged.
The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation yesterday told Indonesian news outlet Tempo that it had recordings suggesting that the national U-23 team's semi-final against Thailand and their third-place play-off against Vietnam had been fixed, reportedly by a Malaysian syndicate.
Both matches ended in 5-0 losses for the Indonesians.
This comes after renowned Singaporean match-fixer Rajendran "Pal" Kurusamy was charged on May 30 for attempting to fix Timor Leste's 1-0 Group B defeat by Malaysia on the same day.
The New Paper has also learnt that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) picked up two Laotian players for questioning before their match against Malaysia on June 11 - which ended in a 3-1 defeat for Laos.
In addition, TNP understands that unusual betting patterns suggested two of Laos' Group B matches could have been compromised.
A spokesman from the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) told TNP: "We are not the authority to comment on such matters. Please contact appropriate authorities."
Meanwhile, the CPIB said in a statement: "Due to the nature of our work, we will not confirm or deny whether any individual or entity is being investigated."
When contacted, Asean Football Federation (AFF) general secretary Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad said: "We are concerned about allegations of match fixing, which is why we have enlisted the help of (sports-betting analysis company) Sportradar to help us monitor all AFF-organised games in the region. Since we did not organise the SEA Games football tournament, we are not able to comment on the allegations."
Just before Laos' final Group B match against Malaysia on June 11, defenders Sipasong Bounthavy, 18, and Inthilath Sengdao, 21, were picked up by CPIB, and consequently missed the match.
After the match, Laos coach David Booth told TNP that the pair were absent because they had "missed the bus".
But Laos Football Federation general secretary Xaybandith Rasphone yesterday confirmed that the pair were unavailable for the match because they had been interviewed by CPIB.
He said: "The question we are asking now is why the authorities wanted to speak to them. We are requesting the head of our (SEA Games) delegation to coordinate with Singsoc to investigate.
"We were surprised at what happened.
"We've had discussions with the players but no action has been taken because to our knowledge they have done nothing wrong."
Xaybandith insisted that none of his players would attempt to fix matches, saying: "I don't think so. Our team want to win matches."
Betting patterns, however, suggest otherwise.
A well-placed source within betting circles told TNP that movements in the betting markets indicated that Laos' matches against Malaysia and Timor Leste (June 9) were compromised.
Laos beat Timor Leste 3-2 after Henrique Wilson Da Cruz Martins scored an injury-time goal for the latter.
The source explained that late into the match, there was an unusual spike in bets on Timor Leste scoring.
This is not the first time Laotian teams have been suspected of fixing matches.
TNP had previously reported about allegations against the senior national team and age-group sides during a World Cup 2014 qualifier, the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2011 AFF Under-16 Youth Championships.
The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) yesterday denied allegations that its SEA Games team fixed matches.
Indonesian news outlet Tribune News reported that PSSI general secretary Azwan Karim said on Tuesday that the match rigging accusations were "baseless". Coach Aji Santoso also called the allegations "shameless".
They were forced to make denials after five voice recordings of alleged conversations between a bookie and a match-fixer were uploaded online.
In one of the recordings, a voice identified by Tempo as "BS" received assurance from a match-fixer that the match between Indonesia and Thailand on Saturday was fixed.
When BS asked who arranged for the fix, the unidentified match-fixer said it had been organised by someone from Malaysia, adding that he was confident that Indonesia were going to lose by two or three goals. The fixer noted that he had received a call from Singapore from a "Malaysian Chinese boss" assuring him that the result was a done deal.
In a separate voice recording, BS asked a man referred to as "Das" about the score of Indonesia-Vietnam match on Monday.
Das assured BS that Indonesia would concede four goals in the first half and then two or three more in the second period.
Indonesia were four goals down at half-time, but only let in one more to lose 5-0.
TNP understands that between May 9 and 13, 2012, investigators had monitored a man known as Das after he entered Indonesia at the same time as convicted match-fixer, Thanasegar S Sinnaiah.
- Additional reporting by Gabriel Tan
I don’t think so. Our team want to win matches.
— Laos Football Federation general secretary Xaybandith Rasphone on whether any of his players would attempt to fix matches