Police continue investigation into match fixing scandal
POLICE will extend the scope of their investigation into alleged match fixing in Thailand’s top football league by examining the bank accounts of the 12 people suspected of involvement in the scandal to trace the money trail, a police source said yesterday.
The information from the bank accounts will be compared with evidence that police have gathered in the investigation that started more than a year ago.
The 12 persons facing arrest warrants for bribery comprise five top players, two referees, four investors and representatives as well as one club executive. The arrests mark the first serious crackdown on alleged cheating in Thai football.
The 12 were summoned for questioning and temporarily released.
The same source said that the 12 people were recently questioned again, and four of them had apparently confessed to taking part in the manipulation of results, while the others maintained they were innocent.
The investigation team is in the process of checking recordings of games played on July 26 and September 10, 17 and 23, which are suspected to have been fixed if more people are involved.
National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said on Tuesday that police were tipped off about the scandal after a football player refused to be bribed and alerted his club and then the police. In the games, an unusual number of goals were scored in the late stages of the game.
The same source said that match-fixing is driven by domestic online football betting by gamblers and gambling organisers, not because the clubs wanted to be on top of the league table. The bribe money for each match is about Bt2-3 million and the sum is divided among those involved in the fixing, the source said. Each of those involved received on average about Bt100,000.
The source revealed without further elaboration that the mastermind behind the 12 suspects is an influential person in Thai football circles who used to be in the news at national level. The police team is gathering evidence about his alleged role.
Pol Maj-General Itthipon Atchariyapradit, a metropolitan police commander, said there was no information so far to suggest the involvement of some national players.
However, investigations pointed to the involvement of overseas investors.
He added that police do not have plans to question any more individuals and will focus the investigation on the 12 main suspects.