Thai FA shocked by match-fixing claim
Thai Football Association President Worawi Makudi said Thursday he was 'shocked' over a reported attempt to rig last year's Thai FA Cup final, and vowed to root out any corruption in Thai football.
A Japanese referee who officiated in the final in November between Buriram United and Army United has told FIFA that he was approached to rig the match, which Buriram won 2-1, Thai news reports have said.
"I can say I was shocked because in Thailand we have never seen such practices before," he told AFP at a meeting between Interpol and world football officials in Kuala Lumpur to discuss match-fixing.
"I will try to get rid of this kind of malpractice. I will try to eliminate this kind of practice," Worawi said.
However, he declined to reveal any further information on the match-rigging allegation, saying he would first discuss the allegations with officials of world football's governing body FIFA.
But he said new laws targeting match-fixing would be introduced in Thailand "very soon" and would include "harsh" jail sentence and fines.
Ralf Mutschke, FIFA's director of security, told AFP on the sidelines of the meeting that FIFA was confident of Thailand's ability to address the issue.
He called for disciplinary measures or possibly criminal proceedings if the allegations were found to be true.
"They are capable and know what to do," he said of the Thai FA, adding that "match-fixing is harming the game" globally.
Match-fixing in football has emerged as a serious threat to the integrity of the game in Asia, where both football and gambling are highly popular, while the rise of online gambling has added to the mix.
Major game-rigging scandals have emerged in Malaysia, South Korea and China in recent years.
But the issue is in the global spotlight as well, after European police agency Europol said recently 380 suspicious games have been identified in Europe among nearly 700 worldwide, including Champions League ties and World Cup qualifiers.
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