SINGAPORE - A top referee and a former Malaysian international have been charged with plotting to fix a match in Singapore, as corruption claims again overshadowed football in the Southeast Asian state.
Malaysian referee Shokri Bin Nor, who officiated last year's Malaysia Cup final and has a day-job as a policeman, and retired winger S. Thanasegar are accused of trying to rig the Malaysian Super League game this week.
Shokri, 47, was arrested before Tuesday's match between Singapore's Lions XII and Malaysia's Sarawak, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said. A replacement was called in to officiate the match, which Lions XII won 3-0.
"Mr. Shokri Bin Nor was subsequently charged in court... for an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act," a statement said. A FAS official confirmed that Thanasegar, 38, was also arrested and charged.
Singapore's Straits Times said the two agreed a fee of 15,000 Malaysian ringgit ($4,736) to fix the match. It is not known which team they were favouring.
If convicted, they face a jail term of up to five years and a maximum fine of Sg$100,000 ($78,031), the newspaper said. The case will come before court again on May 31.
FAS said it had "zero tolerance" of corruption after the latest incident, which follows a similar event this month when two South Korean ex-players of Singapore's Geylang were found guilty of attempted match-fixing.
Despite its wealth, Singapore is notorious for football corruption fuelled by illicit gambling networks. In one closely followed case, Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal was jailed for two years in Finland for match-fixing last July.
According to court documents obtained by AFP, Perumal was a part of a group of Asian and Eastern European match-fixers who sought to manipulate outcomes around the world.
In 2008, Liaoning Guangyuan were thrown out of Singapore's S-League over a match-fixing scandal. And in February, officials launched a probe into Lions XII's home win over Negeri Sembilan, which observers described as suspicious.
Singapore returned to the Malaysian competition this season after an 18-year gap, in a move which immediately drew warnings over possible match-fixing.
"While this is a good idea, there is another potent force killing all the initiatives; bribery, match-fixing and corruption. Now it is really rampant," former Asian football chief Peter Velappan told AFP last July.
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