Thursday 12 August 2010

Life Ban For Player Found Guilty of Match-Fixing in Hong Kong

Towards the end of the 2009-2010 HKFA season, the ICAC (Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption) investigated players from the mainland playing for Hong Kong First Division clubs who were believed to be involved in bribery and match-fixing.

The case revolved around proceedings that occurred just before the First Division league match between Fourway Rangers and Happy Valley on Saturday 3 October 2009. The match ended 2—0. At the end of the season, Happy Valley was relegated from the First Division.

The night before that particular match, Fourway Rangers defender Jean Jacques Kilama received a phone call from a mainland player playing for Happy Valley, suggesting that his team should lose the match. Kilama, a 27-year-old Cameroon-born player who has been a professional player for eight years in Cameroon, Romania and Indonesia (including the past three years in Hong Kong), declined.

Despite clearly saying “no”, Kilama was again approached, this time in person by the Happy Valley player, at 6am the next day. He asked Kilama how much he wanted in return for throwing the match. He again declined and later told his club superiors. Kilama’s club director advised him to go to the ICAC.

In May 2010, the ICAC arrested mainlander Yu Yang, 27 and charged Yu with one count of offering an advantage to an agent, contrary to the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. The ICAC also arrested four other players who were released on bail pending further inquiries.

In June 2010, HKFA’s Disciplinary Task Force followed up on the bribery case. At their meeting held on 21 June 2010, they suspended Yu Yang for life (see below) and released their findings on 16 July 2010.

2009/10 21st Disciplinary Task Force Meeting (21 June 2010)
According to the Certificate of Trial of Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts and Press Release of ICAC on 20th May 2010, Mr. YU Yang, the player of Happy Valley Football club, earlier pleaded guilty to one count of offering an advantage to an agent, contrary to Section 9(2) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. He was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment at Kowloon City Magistracy for offering a bribe to another footballer for his assistance in fixing a match. He was subsequently also disciplinary charged by HKFA.

The Disciplinary Hearing was convened on 21 June 2010 where Happy Valley Football Club declined to send representative on behalf of Mr. YU Yang. Basing on the aforesaid information and after full consideration, the HKFA Disciplinary Task delivered the decision as follows:

1. The player, YU Yang of Happy Valley was found guilty of having violated provisions of HKFA Disciplinary Code 2009/10 (in breach of Chapter 4, Clause 3.1.22).

2. The accused, YU Yang was ordered to be suspended for life. YU Yang is not allowed to participate (including as a role of players or officials) in any matches or activities organized by HKFA.

3. The suspension would be made known to FIFA & AFC.

4. The above suspension would be effective at 12 noon, on 16 July 2010.

From time to time cases of [alleged] match-fixing have arisen in Hong Kong. For example in March 2009 during the 2008-2009 HKFA season, Hong Kong first division club Tuen Mun Progoal were leading Happy Valley 1—0 at half-time only to lose 1—5. Allegations of match-fixing arose after a Progoal player blogged that his mainland teammates had thrown the match for money.

Back in
1998, the ICAC arrested six players representing the Hong Kong team for taking bribes and fixing matches during qualification games for the 1998 World Cup.

From the perspective of match officials, there is nothing referees can do
if players from one or both teams are involved in match-fixing—other than to perform their duties to the best of their abilities and apply the LOTG appropriately. All match officials must focus on their match at hand and perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

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